COMMON NAME

Garden heliotrope
garden valerian


FULL SCIENTIFIC NAME

Valeriana officinalis L.


FAMILY NAME COMMON

Valerian family


FAMILY SCIENTIFIC NAME

Valeriana officinalis


IMAGES


Fruits/Flowers

Habit

Incursion

Flowers

Leaves

Habit

Seedlings

NOMENCLATURE/SYNONYMS

Synonyms: None


DESCRIPTION

Valeriana officinalis is an herbaceous perennial that grows 0.5-1.5 m (1.5-4 ft.) tall. The plant grows from a small rhizome and has fibrous roots. The stems of this plant are generally pubescent, especially at the nodes. Both the basal and the stem leaves are oppositely arranged and are similar in appearance. They are both pinnately divided into 11-21 lanceolate segments that have dentate margins (some are entire). As the leaves go up the stems, the petioles get shorter. The leaves often have a few hairs on their underside. The fragrant flowers of Valeriana officinalis are white or pale pink and are borne in many umbel-like inflorescences. The individual flowers measure 4 mm (0.2 in.) long. There are pectinate scales that can be seen with a 10x hand lens on the lobes of the calyx . The bracts of the flowers are linear-lanceolate in shape. Flowers are present on the plant from June to August. The fruit are small and lanceolate-oblong in shape, measuring 3-5 mm (0.1-0.2 in.) long. Page References Bailey 947, Fernald 1344, Gleason & Cronquist 516, Holmgren 486, Magee & Ahles 965, Newcomb 286, Peterson & McKenny 296, Seymour 508. See reference section below for full citations.


SIMILAR SPECIES

None


REPRODUCTIVE/DISPERSAL MECHANISMS

Valeriana officinalis has wind-dispersed seeds. It can also reproduce locally by means of aerial stolons.


DISTRIBUTION

This plant is native to most of Europe, as well as parts of west Asia, Japan, Korea and China. In the United States it has been found from Maine south to West Virginia and west to Minnesota and Iowa. In the western part of the country it has been found in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. In New England, this plant has been reported from all states except Rhode Island.


HISTORY OF INTRODUCTION IN NEW ENGLAND

Valeriana officinalis has been present in the United States for at least 150 years. It was likely introduced even earlier than this because of its use as a garden and medicinal plant.


HABITATS IN NEW ENGLAND

,Coastal Grassland,Edge,Open Disturbed Area,Roadside,Vacant Lot,Yard or Garden

This plant can grow in a variety of different habitats ranging from grasslands to wooded areas. It can tolerate both dry and moist soils. It is often abundant near the coast.


THREATS

Valeriana officinalis is still cultivated today for its medicinal use. Due to its multiple introductions, it has frequently escaped into the natural landscape where it can displace native plant species.


DOCUMENTATION NEEDS

Documentation required: A specific photograph or mounted snippet of a portion of the stem with an inflorescence.
Best time for documentation: Summer, fall.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Integrated Taxonomic Information System
Taxonomic information about the species

PLANTS Database
General information and map

Wisconsin State Herbarium
Image and brief description about this plant in Wisconsin


REFERENCES

Andersen, R.N. (1968). Germination and Establishment of Weeds for Experimental Purposes. Weed Science Society of America Handbook. WSSA, Illinois.

Bailey, L. H.  1949.  Manual of Cultivated Plants.  Macmillan, New York.

Fernald, M.L.  1950.  Gray's Manual of Botany 8th edition.  American Book Company, New York.

Gleason, H. A. 1952. The New Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. New York

Gleason H.A. and A.C. Cronquist.  1991.  Manual of Vascular Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. 2nd ed.  New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Holmgren N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual.  New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Karcz, J. 1996. Fruit micromorphology and anatomy of Valeriana officinalis (Valerianaceae). Nordic Journal of Botany 16 (4): 409-419.

Magee D.W and H.E. Ahles. 1999.  Flora of the Northeast. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst.

Newcomb N. 1977.  Newcomb's Wildflower Guide.  Little Brown, Boston.

Peterson R.T. and M. McKenny. 1968. A field Guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern and North-central North America.  Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

Seymour, F.C. 1969. The Flora of New England. Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc., Tokyo, Japan.

USDA, NRCS.  2001.  The PLANTS Database, Version 3.1. (http://plants.usda.gov).  National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.