Developing a community-based enterprise: Nunatsiavut Inuit knowledge and perspectives on the use of medicinal plant Rhodiola rosea


  • Vanessa Mardones Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Alain Cuerrier Montreal Botanical Garden, Plant Biology Research Institute (University of Montreal)
  • Luise Hermanutz Memorial University of Newfoundland


Rhodiola, medicinal plant, Inuit, roseroot


Background: The medicinal plant rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), while valuable as an adaptogen in the global trade of natural health products, is not currently commercially sourced in eastern Canada. Rhodiola grows prolifically along the coast of Labrador (Canada), including rocky shorelines, sandy beaches, and up to the high tidal zone. Nunatsiavut Inuit in these remote areas have traditionally used rhodiola as food and medicine; however, due to globalization and significant cultural changes, these communities are shifting from traditional activities towards new ventures. The cultivation of local rhodiola presents an opportunity for a sustainable, community-based enterprise with economic and social benefits. It is critical to consider the unique local context when developing an enterprise intended to build capacity in participating communities as cultural context is a key factor determining the success of community-based enterprises.

Methods: To explore the potential for development of a natural health product based upon Labrador rhodiola, semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted with Nunatsiavut Inuit Elders, youth, and community members.

Results: Participants reported both medicinal and food uses of the local rhodiola, as well as unique insights into its growth and conservation. They were enthusiastic at the prospective social, economic, and health benefits of a community-based enterprise centered on cultivation and marketing of local rhodiola, but concerned about the potential for over-harvesting, and wanted to ensure conservation of local populations.

Conclusions: A community-based enterprise centered on local rhodiola cultivated in Nunatsiavut could benefit Nunatsiavut Inuit communities but would need to meet biocultural design criteria.

Keywords: Ethnobotany, Indigenous entrepreneurship, roseroot, Crassulaceae, Subarctic




How to Cite

Mardones, V., Cuerrier, A., & Hermanutz, L. (2021). Developing a community-based enterprise: Nunatsiavut Inuit knowledge and perspectives on the use of medicinal plant Rhodiola rosea. Ethnobotany Research and Applications, 22, 1–13. Retrieved from