This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol5-6", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
1. Valerian (Valeriana dioica, L.). 2. Cranberry (Oxycoccus palustris, Pers.). 3. Wild Rosemary (Andromeda polifolia, L.). 4. Bog Pimpernel (Anagallis tenella, Murr.). 5. Water Violet (Hottonia palustris, L.)
Valerian grows in moist places such as wet meadows, marshes, and bogs. There it is as common as Water Dropwort, Marsh Marigold, Joint Rush, Marsh Arrowgrass, Common Spike Rush, and many other paludal types of vegetation. Tall and graceful, Valerian has simple stems with egg-shaped, stalked, radical leaves, spoon-shaped, and undivided. The stem-leaves are pinnatifid, or with lobes divided nearly to the base, few, obtusely and coarsely toothed. The stem is square in section.
As the second Latin name suggests, the plants have stamens and pistils on different flowers. The first as well as the second has an inconspicuous calyx, with a prominent rim round the top of the ovary in the female. The flowers are tetramorphic. The corolla is mono-petalous, with small tube, and has either rudimentary or no anthers, or the corolla may be large or smaller, with no pistil or a very rudimentary one. There are 3 stamens, which protrude from the flesh-coloured petals. The flowers are panicled. The fruit is small, ribbed, and smooth.
The Valerian is 1-2 ft. high. It flowers in May and July. It is a deciduous, herbaceous plant increased by division.
The honey is secreted in a small pouch with a green, fleshy ring 1/2 mm. from the base of the tube. The flowers are dioecious, stamens and pistils being on different plants, and are usually cross-pollinated. The male flowers are larger than the female, and are the first to be visited; but the female open first according to Kerner. The tube in the male plant is 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 mm. long, wider above; the female is only 1 mm., and the honey is accessible to short-lipped insects. The capitulum or head of the flower is not as conspicuous as in V. officinalis. It flowers so early that the plant is exposed to much less competition. Insects are numerous but not varied. There are 4 kinds of flowers: 1, male flower without rudiment of pistil and large corolla; 2, male flower with rudimentary pistil and smaller corolla; 3, female flower with traces of anthers and still smaller corollas; 4, female flower with scarcely any trace of anthers and very small corollas. It is visited by Apis mellifica, Andrena albicans, Eristalis arbustorum, Rhingia rostrata, Tipula, Pieris napi, Meligethes.
The calyx of the fruit is provided with feathery hairs which aid in wind dispersal.
This Valerian is addicted to wet land, and a peat-loving plant, requiring a more or less peaty habitat, such as that of a marsh or bog.
Two little fungi may be discovered parasitic upon it. They are Uromyces Valerianoe and Synchytrium aureum. A Thysanopterous insect, Phlaeothrips albipennis, and a moth, Depressaria pulcherimella, feed upon it.
Valeriana may be from the Latin valere, to be powerful or well, because of its medicinal effects, and the second Latin name refers to its dioecious character.
This plant is an ornamental plant. It has been used for hysteria. Cats are fond of it, and rat-catchers also employ it.
Essential Specific Characters: 145. Valeriana dioica, L. - Stem erect, radical leaves ovate, petio-late, stem-leaves pinnatifid, with terminal lobe, plants imperfectly dioecious, flowers white or rose-coloured, staminate flowers larger.