Valeriana officinalis
Midwest Noxious Weed: Do Not Plant

Common Name: garden heliotrope 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Native Range: Europe, western Asia
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: White to pale pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Fragrant
This plant is listed as a noxious weed in one or more Midwestern states outside Missouri and should not be moved or grown under conditions that would involve danger of dissemination.


Easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soils in full sun. Plants tolerate some light shade, but stems may flop as the amount of shade increases. Plants prefer moist, rich loams, but perform respectably well in average garden soils. This is a potentially invasive perennial that spreads by rhizomes and often freely self-seeds. Deadhead spent flowers to prevent self-seeding. Plants generally thrive in cool summer climates. Propagate by seed or division.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Valeriana officinalis, commonly called garden heliotrope, common valerian or all-heal, is a clumping perennial with scented leaves, stems, flowers and roots. It is native to Europe and western Asia, but has escaped gardens and locally naturalized in the northern U. S. and Canada. It typically grows in damp locations, but also can be found in drier soils. It often naturalizes along roads or in fields. It typically grows to 3-5' (less frequently to 6') tall, featuring a clump of deeply lobed basal foliage from which rise tall, slender, sparsely-leaved stems topped in June-July by highly fragrant, salverform, white to pale pink flowers in branched panicles (cymes to 2-4" wide). Leaves are odd-pinnate, each leaf having 7-10 pairs (plus terminal) of toothed, lance-shaped leaflets. Leaves are aromatic when bruised. Strong-smelling roots yield the drug valerian which has been used for many years in herbal medicines for treating a large number of problems including anxiety, restlessness and insomnia. Extracts have also been used in perfumes, herbal teas and for flavoring in a variety of food products. Plants are cultivated in Europe today for producing an over-the-counter tranquilizer.

Genus name comes from the medieval Latin name, possibly derived from the Latin word valere meaning to be healthy in reference to the plant's medicinal uses in nervousness and hysteria.

Specific epithet means medicinal in reference to herbal/medicinal uses.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Grown for ornamental and/or herbal purposes. Cottage gardens, borders, herb gardens, cutting gardens or naturalized areas. Good cut flower.