Stems: erect from creeping rootstocks. Leaves: basal, oblong, entire; stem-leaves petioled, three-to-seven foliolate, the divisions entire. Flowers: cymose, paniculate, more or less dimorphous; corolla funnel-form, five-lobed.
So sweet is the smell of the Northern Heliotrope that few can mistake it. The flowers are very handsome, white tinged with mauve or pink, and grow in big clusters on the top of juicy stalks from eight to eighteen inches high, and in two small axillary clusters a few inches below the terminal cyme. The foliage of this plant is handsome, the leaves being strongly veined, glossy, and of a beautiful bright green colour.
The margins of these leaves are entire, - that is, not cut or toothed, - and herein lies the difference between this plant and Valeriana sitchensis, or Wild Heliotrope, which can only be readily distinguished from it by the fact that the latter's leaves are coarsely dentate, the flowers of both species being almost identical. A very noticeable feature of the Valerians is their extremely long stamens, and their roots have a very strong and disagreeable odour, which is a curious contrast to the delicious fragrance of the flowers.