Perennial herb with a long taproot 30 cm - 1.2 m tall Stem: reduced to a short woody base (caudex), branched. The flower stem is erect. Leaves: opposite and thick with nearly parallel veins and hairless surfaces but hairy margins. The basal leaves have a short winged stalk and are 10 - 30 cm long, narrow and inversely egg-shaped, and toothless or with one or two divisions near the base. Stem leaves smaller, sometimes pinnately parted into a few segments. Flowers: either male or female, found on separate plants (dioecious), a few flowers bisexual, borne on an elongate inflorescence with many lateral branches, bisexual and male flowers 2.5 - 3.5 mm across and female flowers to 1 mm across, with calyx lobes rolled up at flowering and unrolled in fruit, whitish petals fused into a five-lobed inverse cone shape, three stamens, and a three-lobed stigma. Fruit: an achene, 2.5 - 4 mm across, egg-shaped to oblong, hairless.
Similar species: Valeriana species have pinnately divided stem leaves and calyx lobes that are rolled up at flowering but unroll on the mature fruit. Valeriana officinalis and Valeriana uliginosa are easily distinguished by their fibrous roots, and Valeriana ciliata has short-haired leaf surfaces.
Flowering: May to June
Habitat and ecology: Occasional in wet prairies and calcareous fens.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: Valeriana is the medieval Latin name for valerian. It may have been derived from the Latin word valere, meaning healthy, referring to its medicinal use. Edulis means edible.
Author: The Morton Arboretum
Martin and Hutchins 1980, Kearney and Peebles 1969
Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Perennial with erect stems 15-60 cm tall, glabrous or nearly so, from thick taproot, with short branched caudex. Leaves: Opposite leaves thick, glabrous to ciliate with conspicuous lateral veins, basal leaves oblanceolate to spatulate, tapering to a long petiole, entire; cauline leaves in 1-3 pairs, sessile or nearly so, pinnately parted with few linear to lanceolate divisions. Flowers: Panicle open with perfect flowers, 5-merous corolla 2-3 mm long, rotate, mostly yellowish, the calyx limb of pappuslike bristles in fruit, panicle compact then spreading and open in fruit. Fruits: Achene 3-5 mm long, glabrous or pubescent. Ecology: Found in seeps and springs, streambanks, in moist canyons and meadows from 7,000-9,500 ft (2134-2896 m); flowers June-September. Notes: Distinguished from other species of Valeriana by the oblanceolate to spatulate basal leaves that are entire and the yellowish corolla. Ethnobotany: Roots considered poisonous when raw, used for rheumatism topically, for bruises, as tapeworm medicine internally, for hemorrhages, and roots steamed and eaten. Etymology: Valeriana is from Latin valere, to be healthy and strong, while edulis means edible. Synonyms: None Editor: SBuckley, 2010
Perennial from a long stout taproot and short branched caudex, 3-12 dm; lvs thick, nearly parallel-veined, densely ciliate, the basal linear-oblanceolate, 1-3 dm, entire or rarely with 1-2 basal divisions; cauline lvs pinnately parted into a few ascending or falcately divergent segments from a broad flat rachis; infl elongate, with numerous lateral branches, becoming diffuse in age; plants polygamo-dioecious; cor of perfect and staminate fls 2.5-3.5 mm, of pistillate fls scarcely 1 mm; fr ovate or ovate-oblong, 3-4 mm. Swamps and wet open soil; c. O. and s. Ont. to Minn. and Io.; cordilleran region from s. B.C. to Mex. May, June. Our plants are usually short-hairy, and may be distinguished from the usually glabrous cordilleran plants as V. edulis var. ciliata (Torr. & A. Gray) Cronquist (V. ciliata).
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.