Common Names: Marsh Valerian, Woods valerian
Valeriana dioica is a perennial plant growing to 0.3 m (1ft). It is in flower from May to June. It produces tight clusters of pink five-petalled flowers, the petals joined at the base. Flowers are dioecious (male and female on separate plants, with male flowers typically 4.5mm across and female flowers about 3mm across.
Only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil. A calcifuge plant, it requires a lime-free soil. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame and only just cover the seed because it requires light for germination. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant out into their permanent positions in the summer if sufficient growth has been made. If the plants are too small to plant out, grow them on in the greenhouse or frame for their first winter and plant them out early in the following summer. Division in spring. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the summer or the following spring.
It is primarily used as a sedative, and several tribes used the root for nervous problems, hysteria, and cardiac palpitations. The leaves and the roots are the parts of the plant that are used to prepare teas and decoctions. Plants that have not yet flowered are preferred. It has a tranquilizing effect with few of the side effects found in many of the synthetic sedatives but as with all wild plants the concentration of the active ingredient is extremely variable. Large doses can cause vomiting, stupor and dizziness. The Blackfoot Indians used an infusion of American Valerian roots for stomach problems. The Thompson Indians of British Columbia found the plant useful as an external treatment for wounds. The dried roots were powdered and sprinkled onto the wound as an antiseptic; the fresh roots were pounded and applied to the injured area; and the fresh leaves were chewed and placed on the wound. The Bella Coola Indians used the oil from the flowers mixed with bear fat as a cure for baldness. The Cree Indians chewed the roots and rubbed them on their head and temples for headache. A poultice was also made and applied to the ears for earache.
Root – cooked. The odoriferous root is slowly baked for 2 days and then eaten as a vegetable, used in soups or made into a bread. Seed – parched.
Known Hazards: Some caution is advised with the use of this plant. At least one member of the genus is considered to be poisonous raw and V. officinalis is a powerful nervine and sedative that can become habit-forming.
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.