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Polemonium reptans - L.
Common Name Abcess Root, Greek valerian
Family Polemoniaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Rich woods, damp ground and along shady river banks[4, 43].
Range Eastern N. America - New York to Minnesota, south to Kansas and Georgia.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun


Polemonium reptans Abcess Root, Greek valerian

Polemonium reptans Abcess Root, Greek valerian
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Polemonium reptans is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.4 m (1ft 4in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4. It is in flower from Apr to May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

P. humile. Salisb.

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;
Edible Uses
None known
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Alterative;  Astringent;  Diaphoretic;  Expectorant;  Pectoral.

The dried roots have a slightly bitter and acrid taste[4]. They are alterative, astringent, diaphoretic, expectorant and pectoral[4, 61, 222, 238]. They can be used in an infusion with water or as a tincture with alcohol[4]. They are used internally in the treatment of coughs, colds, bronchitis, laryngitis, tuberculosis, feverish and inflammatory diseases, including skin conditions and poisonous bites[238]. The root is rarely used in modern herbalism[238]. It is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[238].
Other Uses

A decoction of the whole plant is used as a hair rinse[213].
Cultivation details
Prefers a moist well-drained fertile soil in sun or semi-shade[200]. Plants are best grown in a soil approaching that of a moraine and they must not be allowed to dry out in the summer[1]. Plants are hardy to about -20°c[187]. A number of named varieties have been selected for their ornamental value[187]. Plants have a creeping root and can multiply very quickly[4]. They can also self-sow to the point of nuisance[200]. The plants have a smell that attracts cats. The cats roll in the plants with evident pleasure and can cause considerable damage to young plants and ones that have recently been moved[238, K].
Seed - sow spring in a cold frame[14]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in early spring or early autumn[111]. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants


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Readers comment
Dianne Nichol-Brown   Fri Apr 10 2009
Here at the National Plant Collection of Polemonium we regularly add flowers of all including reptans to salads and for cake decorations. The flowers have a high nectar content. Petals only - the calyx is a bit hairy and bitter. Dianne Nichol-Brown. Polenonium.co.uk
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Subject : Polemonium reptans  

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