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Valeriana officinalis - L.
Common Name Valerian, Garden valerian
Family Valerianaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards It is said that prolonged medicinal use of this plant can lead to addiction[9]. A course of treatment should not exceed 3 months. Adverse effects can include: headaches (rare), giddiness, nausea, excitability & agitation, heart palpitations (rare), insomnia (rare). Do not take with other sedatives (e.g. alcohol) or before driving (or alertness required) [301].
Habitats Grassland, scrub, woods etc, on dry or damp soils[9, 17]. Avoids acid soils.
Range Europe, including Britain but excluding the extreme north and south, temperate Asia to Japan.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun


Valeriana officinalis Valerian, Garden valerian

Valeriana officinalis Valerian, Garden valerian
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Valeriana officinalis is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to August, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, beetles.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Valeriana baltica Pleijel. Valeriana exaltata J.C. Mikan

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Seed.
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Tea.

Seed[172]. No further details are given but the seeds of other members of this genus are parched and then eaten. An essential oil from the leaves and root is used as a flavouring in ice cream, baked goods, condiments etc[183]. It is especially important in apple flavours[238]. The leaves can also be used as a condiment[61]. The plant is used in moderation as a herbal tea[183].
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.

Anticonvulsant;  Antispasmodic;  Carminative;  Diuretic;  Hypnotic;  Nervine;  Sedative;  Stimulant.

Valerian is a well-known and frequently used medicinal herb that has a long and proven history of efficacy. It is noted especially for its effect as a tranquilliser and nervine, particularly for those people suffering from nervous overstrain[4, 222]. Valerian has been shown to encourage sleep, improve sleep quality and reduce blood pressure[254]. It is also used internally in the treatment of painful menstruation, cramps, hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome etc[238, 254]. It should not be prescribed for patients with liver problems[238]. Externally, it is used to treat eczema, ulcers and minor injuries[238]. The root is antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, hypnotic, powerfully nervine, sedative and stimulant[4, 7, 9, 14, 21, 46, 147, 165, 192, 218]. The active ingredients are called valepotriates, research has confirmed that these have a calming effect on agitated people, but are also a stimulant in cases of fatigue[222]. The roots of 2 year old plants are harvested in the autumn once the leaves have died down and are used fresh or dried[4, 9, 238]. The fresh root is about 3 times as effective as roots dried at 40° (the report does not specify if this is centigrade or fahrenheit), whilst temperatures above 82° destroy the active principle in the root[240]. Use with caution[21, 238], see the notes above on toxicity.
Other Uses
Compost;  Essential;  Liquid feed;  Repellent.

The plant yields about 1% of an essential oil from the roots[7, 238]. It is used in perfumery to provide a 'mossy' aroma[57, 61, 238], though the scent is considered to be disagreeable by many people[207]. The dried roots are also placed in linen cupboards and clothes drawers in order to scent the clothes[4]. The dried root attracts rats and cats, it can be used as a bait to lure them away from other areas[100]. An ingredient of 'QR' herbal compost activator[32]. This is a dried and powdered mixture of several herbs that can be added to a compost heap in order to speed up bacterial activity and thus shorten the time needed to make the compost[K]. The plant can also be used to make a very good liquid plant feed[14, 18, 201]. It attracts earthworms[14, 18]. The leaves are very rich in phosphorus[201].
Cultivation details
A very easily grown plant, it succeeds in ordinary garden soil[1], preferring a rich heavy loam in a moist site[4, 7, 17]. Thrives in full sun or in partial shade[233], doing well in light woodland. A polymorphic species, the more extreme variations are given specific status by some botanists[17]. Valerian is often grown in the herb garden and also sometimes grown commercially as a medicinal herb[1, 200]. When grown for its medicinal root, the plant should not be allowed to flower[4]. The flowers and the dried roots have a strong smell somewhat resembling stale perspiration[245]. Cats are very fond of this plant, particularly the powdered root[1, 4, 20]. Once a cat has discovered a plant they will often destroy it by constantly rolling over it[4].The dried root also attracts rats and can be used as a bait in traps[4, 14]. A good companion for most plants.
Seed - sow spring in a cold frame and only just cover the seed because it requires light for germination[200]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant out into their permanent positions in the summer if sufficient growth has been made. If the plants are too small to plant out, grow them on in the greenhouse or frame for their first winter and plant them out early in the following summer. Division in spring. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the summer or the following spring.
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
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Centranthus macrosiphon 20
Centranthus ruberRed Valerian, Fox's Brush, Jupiter's Beard21
Fedia cornucopiae 20
Nardostachys grandifloraSpikenard13
Patrinia scabiosifoliaEastern Valerian, Scabious Patrinia13
Patrinia triloba 10
Patrinia villosa 11
Valeriana amurensis 10
Valeriana capitataValerian, Captiate valerian11
Valeriana celtica 11
Valeriana ciliataTobacco Root10
Valeriana dioicaMarsh Valerian, Woods valerian11
Valeriana fauriei 01
Valeriana hardwickii 03
Valeriana jatamansiIndian Valerian03
Valeriana obovataTobacco Root21
Valeriana occidentaliswestern valerian11
Valeriana phu 21
Valeriana sambucifolia 23
Valeriana sitchensisAmerican Valerian, Sitka valerian13
Valeriana toluccana 22
Valeriana uliginosaMountain Valerian02
Valerianella carinataKeeled-Fruited Cornsalad, European cornsalad20
Valerianella chenopodifolia 20
Valerianella eriocarpaItalian Corn Salad30
Valerianella locustaCorn Salad, Lewiston cornsalad40
Valerianella radiataBeaked Cornsalad20
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Botanical References
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Readers comment
Elizabeth H.
tarragon66 Sun May 4 2008
Agree with all the above, but be warned - it is very vigorous and can soon outgrow its space, so don't grow it in a mixed shrub or perennial border otherwise it will take over the whole bed!
Jim M.
Jun 24 2012 12:00AM
The flowers have the most wonderful perfume I would be happy to have this plant take over!
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Subject : Valeriana officinalis  

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