This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol3", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Perennial, strong-smelling, mostly tall herbs, the leaves mainly basal and the cymose flowers paniculate in our species. Calyx-limb of 5-15 bristle-like plumose teeth, short and inrolled in flower, but elongated, rolled outward and conspicuous in fruit. Corolla funnelform or tubular, usually more or less gibbous at the base, the limb nearly equally 5-lobed. Stamens commonly 3. Style entire, or minutely 2-3-lobed at the summit. Fruit compressed, i-celled, 1-nerved on the back, 3-nerved on the front. [Name Middle Latin, from valere, to be strong.]
About 175 species, mostly in the temperate and colder parts of the north temperate zone and the Andes of South America. Besides the following, 5 others occur in southern and western North America. Type species: Valeriana pyrenaica L.
Corolla-tube very slender, 6"-10" long; basal leaves cordate.
1. V. pauciflora.
Corolla-tube 1"-3" long; basal leaves not cordate.
Leaves thick, parallel-veined, entire, or the segments not dentate; roots fusiform.
2. V. edulis.
Leaves thin, reticulate-veined, the segments dentate; roots fibrous. Lower leaves spatulate, often entire; plants glabrous.
Segments of middle stem-leaves 9-13, usually sinuate-dentate; corolla 1.7"-2.5" wide.
3. V. uliginosa.
Segments of middle stem-leaves 5-7, entire; corolla 1.5" wide or less.
4. V. septentrionalis.
All the leaves pinnately divided; plants pubescent, especially at the nodes.
5. V. officinalis.
V. pauciflora Michx. Fl. Bor. Am. 1: 18. 1803.
Rootstocks slender, usually horizontal. Stem glabrous, erect or ascending, 1°-3° high, often sending out runners from the base; leaves thin, the basal ones slender-petioled, simple, or sometimes with a pair of small leaflets on the petiole, broadly ovate, cordate, acute at the apex, the margins crenate or dentate; stem leaves pinnately 3-7-divided, the terminal segment larger than the others; cymes terminal, clustered; flowers few or numerous; corolla pink, its tube very slender, 6"-10" long; bracts linear; fruit oblong or oblong-lanceolate, about 3" long, glabrous or puberulent; bristles of the calyx at length elongated and plumose.
Fig. 3996. V. Edulis Nutt. In T. & G. Ft N. A. 2: 48. 1841
Erect, 1c-4° high, from a deep fusiform carrot-shaped root. Stem glabrous, or nearly so, the young leaves commonly more or less pubescent and the older ones finely ciliate, sometimes glabrous; basal leaves spatulate or oblanceolate, thick, 3'-12' long, 2"-10" wide, obtuse at the apex, narrowed into a margined petiole, parallel-veined, entire or with a few obtuse entire lobes; stem leaves few, sessile, pinnately-parted into linear or lanceolate segments; flowers yellowish-white, small (2"), polygamo-dioecious, paniculate, the inflorescence at length widely branching; bracts lanceolate, short; fruit narrowly ovate, glabrous or nearly so, 2" long, at length exceeded by the plumose calyx-teeth.
In wet open places, Ontario to British Columbia, south to Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, and in the Rocky Mountains to Arizona and New Mexico. Called also oregon tobacco: the root cooked for food. May-Aug.