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Maral root.

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A nice adaptogen which specifically strengthens the kidneys.

Maral root used to be Leuzea carthamoides and Leuzea rhapontica. Now it's Stemmacantha carthamoides.
It's also been a host of other things (Centaurea, Cirsium, Cnicus, and Rhaponticum carthamoides), and one of those, if taken without the "author" bit of the "genus species auct" completeness of botanical binominals, points to another plant - it just makes sense to include "auct." in latin names.

A question on the herblist, in February 2005:
"What I'd like to know is, what are the real virtues of maral root, outside of the sensationalized claims of bodybuilders?"

Maral root is a nice adaptogen, which reliably will raise a low blood pressure -- for as long as you take it. That figures: like most adaptogens it'll strengthen the kidneys, so your pee is less watery, so you have more liquid to keep in your veins, so your blood pressure goes up. There's no effect on high blood pressure, as far as I know. If you don't have maral root use any of the dozens of other adaptogens that strongly affect the kidneys - nettle seed (Urtica dioica) would do nicely too. Or try licorice root (not licorice candy), which is very good for your kidneys, your gut, your lungs, and your adrenals. And yum for codonopsis, even though the sulphured stuff I got last time I bought some is less tasty.

There was some Russian research, years ago, about it being helpful for alcoholics (an amazing percentage kept off alcohol even after they stopped taking maral root). I'm not sure this is the piece I'm thinking of - I remember a half year course of herb with a 5 year follow-up; this one is rather shorter: "The use of a decoction of the rhizome of Leuzea carthamoides for the treatment of alcoholics with depressive states."

Photo: Rhaponticum carthamoides 16. Very pretty plant, it is. And people who walk by ask "what's that"? Because it's only in flower for about a week, after which the show is over, and it's rarely grown outside specialty gardens (like a largish herb garden) so people really haven't ever seen it before.

Digging the root is major work, and as if that wasn't enough, cleaning it is even more work. No wonder the Russians dig 2nd year root instead of the far larger root clumps of 4-5 year old plants.

Don't grow maral root in clay, you'll never get the wire-like tangled roots up. I know, because a friend working on a local herb farm tried just that, a decade or two ago. They made no progress at all with a spade, and about as much with a tractor pulling the plants up. It simply won't work.

A follow-up question on the herblist:
"Do you think maral root would be drastically different or "better" than any of these other adaptogens for a certain purpose?"

Not really. If it sells for astronomical prices it's the current bandwagon - jump off that, you'll get the same zing for much less $$ from other plants. Plants that aren't the latest fad.

Except for that alcoholics thing, that's honestly intriguing.


I have been investigating the herb Rhaponticum carthamoides, "Maral Root". I have become quite intrigued and was wondering if you know where I might obtain some seeds/seedlings. I'd like to use this herb in my thesis. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

You can puchace Maral root starter plants from Richters Herbs & Medicinal plants locared in Ontario, Canada
Their online order page is:
Just beware of import laws for your country if you are outside of Canada. I bought 1 plant & it's Extremely vigorous!

Hi Henriette - I have about 6 Maral Root (Leuzea) plants that i grew from seed that I want to finally put into the ground now (very late, sadly). Your May post said that russians tend to harvest the roots the second year (as opposed to waiting even longer, to 4-5 years). Is it feasible to harvest them after only one summer (ie, in 2-3 months?) If not, could i keep them in pots this year and put them into the ground next spring? Any advice would be very appreciated, (and i'm looking forward to perusing your herb blog further, i should add...)

I wouldn't dig maral root in the first year. It's a perennial, not a biennial.

The roots of biennials are strongest in the fall of their first year, gathering strength for the second year's flowers. The roots of perennials get stronger as they go, year by year.
(And of course, annuals don't gather strength in their roots at all.)

Thanks for the reply!

Hi (again) Henriette -

last year's Leuzea, along with a new crop this year, are doing well in their pots, happy in full sun and very moist soil.
I was wondering if i can propagate them via root division, and can't find any information online about it. Do you know?

(btw, I'm fermenting some willowherb today, inspired by your most recent posting. If i can't find russian Kaporie tea, I guess I'll just have to make my own...)

I don't think so. It's one main stalk from a mass of roots - a convoluted taproot as it were - and the seeds sprout very very easily.

Pot-grown maral root? Put them in the ground. Maral root is from Russia and overwinters just fine, nevermind how hard the frost.

Hi Henriette, We also have a plot of maral root plants. I am wondering how much pounds, or kilagrams I need to send in for it to get an analysis? And how is maral root harvested? Our maral root has been in the ground for two years now.


1) I wouldn't have a clue, and 2), you dig it up.

I am wondering if anyone knows where to get fresh maral root in alcohol tincture?

buy some alcoholdilution 50% and put your roots inside the bottle and let it their for queit a long time. Or like the old fascionway put it in strong good red wine.

Hi i was wondering if that website they posted there to buy it was legit?? and if i buy the seed can i plant them?? and whats the best way to use this plant so you can get all it benefits

Richters'? That's a respected and respectable seed house. You usually plant seeds, yes. Uses, see the blog post…

Hi Henrietta

I'm looking at Maralroot as a replacement to steroid theropy for MS. Do you think this maybe a viable option to try, steroids no longer seem to be an option for me.

Thanks Dee

You might wish to go at things from the other end instead. Get rid of your stresses and stressors. Load up on nutrients.
Add adaptogens only after those two have been addressed and been in place for a month or five.
It's entirely possible that you feel loads better if you stop eating gluten and dairy, completely.

I have been looking for a tonic and was hoping maral was the one. I have taken moomiyo and a shijalit and not really notice anything but did with Maral but in your blog you say it is currently the hot thing but there are other things as good and cheaper. I would be very glad to hear what they are. I used to be young for my age now I feel old for my age - 66. I am stiff and sore and just have no ambition although there is plenty I need to be doing. I tend to feel speedy very easily so don't want anything like maca which really makes me buzz and even get irritable, which I tend to be anyway. What do you know of that supplies good steady energy but does not make one hyper?
I happen to be a recovering alcoholic but sober 34 years now without any maral or other herbal support. Got sober through AA. I wonder if they have that in Russia? Thanks if you can give me some herbal ideas! Best to you.

I quite like nettle seed instead of maral root.
Also, _rest enough_. Ditch your stressors. Take your nutrients - vitamins B, C, D, E, fish oil, magnesium, chromium, zinc, iron (if hemoglobin is low), protein. Exercise regularly.
For your stiffness and soreness, try to take bone broth every day or to ditch all (ALL) solanaceous foods and see where either lands you a few weeks down the road.

I live in Ct. in zone 7 in the U.S. A friend of mine informed me that I needed to order a
minimum of 6 plants to order maralroot from Richter's. Is this true? If so, Do you know any
other places where I can order 1 plant?

I wouldn't have a clue on either question. It's quite easy to grow from seed ... throw the seeds in fertile airy soil and take a few steps back.

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