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Garden valerian, Valeriana officinalis
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Dipsacales
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Subfamily: Valerianoideae
Genus: Valeriana
L. (1753)
    • Aligera Suksd. (1897)
    • Amblyorhinum Turcz. (1852)
    • Aretiastrum (DC.) Spach (1841)
    • Astrephia Dufr. (1811)
    • Belonanthus Graebn. (1906)
    • Betckea DC. (1832)
    • Centranthus DC. (1805)
    • Dufresnia DC. (1834)
    • Fedia Gaertn. (1790), nom. cons.
    • Fedia Kunth (1819), nom. illeg.
    • Fuisa Raf. (1840)
    • Hemesotria Raf. (1820)
    • Hybidium Fourr. (1868)
    • Locusta Riv. ex Medik. (1789)
    • Masema Dulac (1867)
    • Mitrophora Neck. ex Raf. (1813)
    • Monastes Raf. (1840)
    • Ocymastrum Kuntze (1891)
    • Odontocarpa Raf. (1840)
    • Oligacoce Willd. ex DC. (1830)
    • Phu Ludw. (1757)
    • Phuodendron (Graebn.) Dalla Torre & Harms (1905)
    • Phyllactis Pers. (1805)
    • Plectritis DC. (1830)
    • Polypremum Adans. (1763), nom. illeg.
    • Porteria Hook. (1851)
    • Pseudobetckea (Höck) Lincz. (1958)
    • Rittera Raf. (1840), nom. illeg.
    • Saliunca Raf. (1840)
    • Siphonella Small (1903)
    • Stangea Graebn. (1906)
    • Valerianopsis C.A.Müll. (1885)

Valeriana is a genus of flowering plants in the family Caprifoliaceae,[1] members of which may by commonly known as valerians. It contains many species, including the garden valerian, Valeriana officinalis. Species are native to all continents except Antarctica, with centers of diversity in Eurasia and South America (especially in the Andes).

Some species are known as introduced species in other parts of the world, including Valeriana rubra in the western United States[2] and Valeriana macrosiphon in Western Australia.[3]


The genus was named by Carl Linnaeus after the Roman emperor Publius Licinius Valerianus who was said to use the plant as medicine.[4]: 16  The emperor's personal name comes from Valeria and the Latin verb valeo which means "to be strong".[5][6]

32 previously recognized genera, including Centranthus, Fedia, and Plectritis, are now considered synonyms of Valeriana.[1] Species in the former genus Centranthus are unusual in having flowers with "handedness", that is, having neither radial nor bilateral symmetry.[7]


Species from this genus are herbaceous and have woody roots. They grow vines with fine hairs and trifoliolate, pinnate leaves with serrated edges. They release a strong smell when they dry. Their flowers bloom from cymes.[8]

Fossil record[edit]

Fossil seeds of Valeriana sp, among them †Valeriana pliocenica, have been recovered from Late Miocene deposits of southern Ukraine, and from Pliocene deposits of south-eastern Belarus and Bashkortostan in central Russia. The fossil seeds are most similar to the extant European Valeriana simplicifolia (a subspecies of Valeriana dioica).[9]


As of December 2020, Plants of the World Online accepts over 420 species and hybrids, including:[1]



  1. ^ a b c d "Valeriana L." Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 30 April 2024.
  2. ^ USDA Plants Profile
  3. ^ "FloraBase Profile". Archived from the original on 2011-05-24. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  4. ^ Ilieva, Iliana (30 March 2021). "Names of botanical genera inspired by mythology". GSC Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences. 14 (3): 8–18. doi:10.30574/gscbps.2021.14.3.0050.
  5. ^ Harper, Douglas. "valerian". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  6. ^ Lewis, Charlton T.; Short, Charles (1879). "vălĕo". A Latin Dictionary. Perseus Digital Library.
  7. ^ Weberling, Focko (1992). Morphology of Flowers and Inflorescences. Cambridge University Press. p. 19. ISBN 0-521-25134-6.
  8. ^ Acevedo-Rodríguez, Pedro (April 2020). "Caprifoliaceae" (PDF). Guide to the Genera of Lianas and Climbing Plants of the Neotropics. National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.
  9. ^ The Pliocene flora of Kholmech, south-eastern Belarus and its correlation with other Pliocene floras of Europe by Felix Yu. VELICHKEVICH and Ewa ZASTAWNIAK - Acta Palaeobot. 43(2): 137–259, 2003
  10. ^ English Names for Korean Native Plants (PDF). Pocheon: Korea National Arboretum. 2015. p. 668. ISBN 978-89-97450-98-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 24 December 2016 – via Korea Forest Service.

External links[edit]