Garden valerian (Valeriana officinalis), or garden heliotrope (no relation to heliotrope) is native to Eastern Europe. It is a pretty plant with long, graceful leaf stalks topped with white or light-colored flower head sometimes tinged with pink or a fleshy color.
A single 3-4 foot tall stem emerges from the root and compound leaves clasp the stem. At the top of the stem one or two flower stalks topped with cymes will appear and bloom from mid to late summer.
The flowers smell sweet, sometimes cloyingly, and the rest of the plant, when crushed, gives off the smell of sweaty socks.
New plants will grow from shoots where they touch the ground.
all-heal, amantilla, capon’s tail, cat’s valerian, fu, garden heliotrope, garden valerian, genicularis, marinella, phu, setwall, St George’s Herb, terdina, theriacardia, van, vandal root, wenderot
History and Folklore
The Latin valere from whence the common name of this plant originated means “to be strong or healthy” and it may refer to the healing applications of the plant or it may refer to its strong odor. Indeed the ancient Greeks called this plant “Phu” (like phew!).
|Love and Attraction||Valerian has long been associated with love and is believed to possess magical properties that can attract romantic partners or enhance existing relationships|
|Protection||In folklore, Valerian was used as a protective herb to ward off evil spirits, negative energies, and bad luck|
|Sleep and Dream Magick||Valerian is often used in rituals and potions for promoting deep sleep, inducing dreams, and enhancing dream recall|
|Purification and Cleansing||Valerian was sometimes used in purification rituals to cleanse spaces, objects, or individuals from negative influences|
It was believed that this plant had the properties of turning anything bad into good.
Valerian is happy in most situations provided it has fertile, weed-free soil and enjoys partial sun. It is best grown from shoots or by division as seeds do not germinate reliably. You should not allow valerian to dry out.
If you are growing to harvest the root later, cutting off the flowers as they appear is best.
Harvesting & Storage
Harvest valerian roots in autumn of its second or third year after the leaves have died back. Wash them and then dry them quickly and put in the oven at 120 degrees until they are brittle. Store in an airtight container.
Cats love the smell of Valerian and find it quite intoxicating. It is useful stuffed inside cat toys.
Valerian has a sedative action useful against insomnia, anxiety, and stress. It is also used to treat gastrointestinal pain and irritable bowel.
|Anxiety and Stress Relief||Valerian is well-known for its calming and relaxing effects, making it a popular herbal remedy for anxiety, stress, and nervousness|
|Sleep Disorders||The herb is commonly used to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders due to its sedative properties|
|Headaches and Migraines||Valerian is sometimes used to alleviate headaches and migraines, especially those caused by tension or stress|
|Digestive Disorders||Valerian has been used to soothe digestive issues such as indigestion, cramps, and irritable bowel syndrome|
However, valerian is reported to be a mutagen so it is not recommended for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive.
|Love Spells and Charms||Valerian is often included in love spells, charms, and potions to enhance love, attraction, and passion|
|Protection and Warding||Valerian can be used in protective spells and rituals to create a barrier against negative energies, hexes, and psychic attacks|
|Dream Work and Divination||The herb is believed to enhance psychic abilities and is commonly used in dream work, divination, and spirit communication practices|
|Ritual Offerings||Valerian flowers or leaves are sometimes used as offerings in rituals and ceremonies to honor deities or spirits associated with love, sleep, or divination|
Also, for turning bad situations around to one’s advantage and finding the positive in a seemingly negative situation.