Botanical Name: Valerian officinalis

Common  name(s): Valerian


  • Perennial, herbaceous | Zones 4-7 | Partial shade | 3-4’ clumping | blooms late spring / early summer (white flowers with a touch of pink, very fragrant)**
  • Woodland plant. Can tolerate sun as long as it stays wet.
  • Direct sow. Space plants 12-15” apart.

Companions: skullcap


  • Harvest root in the fall of the first year or the spring of the second. They deteriorate in quality by fall of the second year.
  • Clean thoroughly and dry in the shade.
  • The root has a very strong, unpleasant fragrance.


Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-2 tsp of the root, let infuse for 10-15 minutes.

Alternative Infusion: let 1 teaspoon soak in a cup of cold water, covered and placed in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. This way none of the essential oils will evaporate.

Tincture: 2-4ml (10 drops – 1 tsp), 3x/day

Combinations: skullcap (tension), hawthorn berry (high blood pressure), cramp bark (cramps), passion flower and hops (insomnia)


Constituents: Isovalerenic acid, valerenic acid, caffein acid, tannins, sesquiterpenes, glycosides, essential oils, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins

Actions: strong sedative and pain reliever

Uses: stress, tension, insomnia, nervous system disorders, irregular heartbeat and anxiety that causes it, high blood pressure, muscle relaxant, headaches, pain, menstrual cramps, some forms of epilepsy

Cautions: avoid taking large doses for an extended period of time (causes headache, heaviness, and stupor). Irritating and stimulating to some people.


Spicy, bitter, warm


  • Homegrown Herbs, Tammi Hartung
  • Medicinal Herbs, Rosemary Gladstar
  • Holistic Herbal, David Hoffman
  • A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M. Grieve
  • *The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra (gives botanical name as Scuttelaria baicalensis)

**A Modern Herbal says it blooms from June – September. Will have to verify. It also says may not flower the first few years, but propagates like strawberries.

I received a valerian plant from a friend and planted it down by my stream (the picture above is that plant). I went back recently and I can’t find it! I’m sure it’s there, and I’ll be pleasantly surprised some day at the citizen of the forest it has become. I also spread a bunch of seeds in my new orchard. They came up – not very strong yet – and I’m waiting to see how they come back next year.