Shoots & Roots Bitters is a team of three female scientists that promote biodiversity through research, teaching and the creation of science-based craft bitters that draw from ecology, cultural practices and flavors around the world. 



Rachel is a plant evolutionary biologist at NYU who specializes in the evolution of food, particularly eggplants in Asia and African rice. She works to show you every plant with an adaptation that leads to flavorful or medicinal properties, and explains how it came about in the first place.                           


Ashley’s research on the ethnobotany and domestication of trees has spanned from the açaí palm of the Amazon rainforest to ancient pollard beeches in the Pyrenees. She works at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies in plant conservation and consults on international agriculture.                                                              


Selena is an Assistant Professor of Sustainable Food Systems at Montana State University examining the ecological, cultural and health aspects of food systems with expertise in tea agro-forests of China. She is focusing on how climate change impacts the medicinal and sensory quality of botanicals. Selena co-authored a book on the Tea Horse Road and enjoys extracting plants traded along this ancient trade route.    


Our Story

As field and lab scientists, we often encounter plants with fascinating cultural history whose aromas and tastes captivate and engage us. It is these tastes and aromas that are far more elusive to capture through scientific means such as publications. We feel that these diverse place-based experiences are as important as the scientific data we collect in expressing the importance of biological and cultural diversity. 

We met during graduate studies through the New York Botanical Garden. All of us share a passion for research and education on culturally important plants. Our collaboration was a natural fit. 

We started working on research projects together. From examining the genetic diversity of wild tea trees that grow deep in the forests of SW China to a literature review on processes of crop domestication. This grew into educational outreach about our research. It was important to us for our educational efforts to be engaging - we began to incorporate botanical tastings of the plants we study from around the world and the rich sensory experiences from our fieldwork. 

Our botanical tastings evolved to applying our phytochemical lab training (and equipment) towards making high quality botanical infusions that optimally bring out flavor and medicinal compounds. 

This is how Shoots and Roots Bitters was born. Our mission is to promote botany education and biodiversity in exciting bitters for your soda water, cocktails and other drinks.  We are scientists celebrating science. Join us on our sensory journey to explore the world’s remarkable botanical diversity.