Perennial herb with fibrous roots 50 cm - 1.5 m tall Stem: erect, hairy at nodes. Leaves: opposite, basal and stem leaves similar, stalked, to 13.5 cm long, pinnately divided into eleven to 21 toothed segments, lower leaves stiff-haired beneath. Flowers: borne on a large open inflorescence with lower branches separated from upper branches, with calyx lobes rolled up at flowering and unrolled in fruit, light pinkish petals fused into a tube 4 mm long with five 1 mm lobes, three stamens, and a three-lobed stigma. Fruit: a hairless achene, 3 - 5 mm long, lance-oblong.
Similar species: Valeriana species have pinnately divided stem leaves and calyx lobes that are rolled up at flowering but unroll on the mature fruit. Valeriana edulis and Valeriana ciliata are distinguished by their taproots. Valeriana uliginosa differs by its basal leaves, which are either undivided or have two small basal lobes.
Flowering: late May to late June
Habitat and ecology: Introduced from Eurasia, this species is sometimes grown as ornamental but rarely escapes. It is somewhat frequent near the southern shore of Lake Geneva in Walworth County and has naturalized at the Morton Arboretum in DuPage County.
Occurence in the Chicago region: non-native
Etymology: Valeriana is the medieval Latin name for valerian. It may have been derived from the Latin word valere, meaning healthy, referring to its medicinal use. Officinalis means "sold in shops," referring to its medicinal use.
Fibrous-rooted perennial 5-15 dm from a short rhizome; stems hairy at least at the nodes; basal and cauline lvs similar, pinnately divided into 11-21 lanceolate, dentate segments; petioles of the upper lvs progressively shorter; infl large and open, the lower branches often remote from the upper; cor obconic, the tube 4 mm, the lobes 1 mm; fr lance-oblong, 3-5 mm, glabrous; 2n=14, 28, 56. Native of Eurasia, escaped from cult. here and there in our range. May-Aug.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.