Centranthus rubra

Botanical Name :Centranthus rubra
Family:    Caprifoliaceae
Genus:    Centranthus
Species:C. ruber
Kingdom:Plantae
Order:    Dipsacales

Synonyms: Pretty Betsy. Bouncing Bess. Delicate Bess. Drunken Sailor. Bovisand Soldier.

Common Names:  valerian or red valerian, Jupiter’s beard and spur valerian.

Habitat: Centranthus rubra is native to England, Scotland and the Mediterranean countries. It  usually grows on  rocky places at elevations below 200 m. It is often seen by roadsides or in urban wasteland. It can tolerate very alkaline soil conditions, and will grow freely in old walls despite the lime in their mortar.

Description:
Centranthus rubra is a perennial plant. It branches  very freely to enabling it to take a firm hold in the crevices in which it has once gained possession. The stems are stout, somewhat shrubby at the base, between 1 and 2 feet long, hollow and very smooth in texture. The leaves 2 to 4 inches long and pointed, opposite one another in pairs, are somewhat fleshy, their outlines generally quite entire.
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The plant flowers profusely, and though the individual flowers are small (no more than 2 cm), the inflorescences are large and showy. The flowers are small in rounded clusters each with 5 fused petals and a spur. They are purplish red and sometimes (about 10% of individuals) white and occasionally lavender in color. Flowering takes place in early summer. They have a strong and somewhat rank scent. They are pollinated by both bees and butterflies and the plant is noted for attracting insects. It is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Angle Shades. Seeds have tufts similar to dandelions that allow wind dispersal, and as such can become self-seed and become invasive if not properly controlled.

Edible Uses;
Both leaves and roots can be eaten, the leaves either fresh in salads or lightly boiled, the roots boiled in soups. Opinions differ as to whether either make very good eating, however.

Medicinal Uses:
Although it is sometimes reported to have medicinal properties,perhaps there is no basis for this view, which is almost certainly due to confusion with true valerian, (Valeriana officinalis).

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/v/valred04.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centranthus_ruber

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