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.
Invasive in Connecticut and Wisconsin.