Valeriana officinalis

Recently my post on Red Valerian/Jupiter’s Beard (Centranthus ruber) was perhaps confusing for some, since there is another Valerian:

Valeriana officinalis

On a recent walk near the river I found this pale one already in flower.

Valeriana officinalis is in some ways similar to the red valerian – in its flower shape and general appearance – but it is a different species. This wild one usually grows near water and is often much taller than the red one, has a sweet scent and a thicker stem, and quite different foliage. It has a much more delicate-looking pale flower, which becomes pinker as it ages. Known in Germany as “Baldrian”, Valeriana officinalis is frequently used as a recognized herbal sedative – for sleeping disorders it is reported to work well with no side effects. As mild relief from tension, nervous stomach cramps and headaches, I have known many students take it in the weeks preceding an exam!

And it is so pretty.


18 thoughts on “Valeriana officinalis

  1. I thought I had found some on a walk at the beach, but on closer inspection the actual buds are quite different. I do wish I was better at identifying the plant life I come across, but I’m working on it.

    • I’m learning all the time too… I often rely on my invaluable wildflowers book – pocket-sized and organized according to flower colour!

    • The white Centranthus ruber in my garden is very noticeable because of its whiteness. The scented Valeriana officinalis I see around here always has a slight pink/lilac tinge to it. They are both lovely!

  2. Cathy this is fascinating. I have the red and quite suddenly this late spring a bloom of white showed up beside the red at the waters edge of the pond. I will have to observe it carefully…I have also used it to help when I couldn’t sleep and it does help.

  3. I don’t know this at one. I have heard of it used as a sleep aid, though. Does it grow naturally in your area?

    • Yes, it is all along the river bank and by August the flowers have turned a little darker and look beautiful! It is very well-known here, and common to take as a herbal remedy.

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