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Marsh Valerian

Valeriana dioica

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Valerianaceae (Valerian)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
120 centimetres tall
Bogs, fens, grassland, marshes, wetland.

Pink, 5 petals
Flowers are in dense clusters, light or dark pink. Similar to Common Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) but Marsh Valerian only grows in marshes and boggy grassland. Common Valerian is also a taller plant.
A seed capsule with a plume.
Perennial. Oval, untoothed basal leaves. The upper leaves are pinnate. Quite often long-stalked. A common species in England and Wales. Scarce in Scotland. Absent from Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Other Names:
Woods Valerian.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Valeriana dioica, also known as Marsh Valerian, is a perennial herb that is native to Europe, Asia and North America. It is a member of the Valerianaceae family, and is known for its medicinal properties. The root of the plant is commonly used as a natural remedy for anxiety, insomnia, and other sleep disorders, similar to Valeriana officinalis. It also has traditional use in treating digestive complaints, as a diuretic and as a sedative. It has pink or white flowers, but the plant is not as well known as V. officinalis and is not as commonly cultivated. As with other valerian species, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional before taking it as it may interact with certain medications.


Marsh Valerian (Valeriana dioica) is a beautiful and versatile herb that is commonly found in moist and marshy areas throughout Europe and Asia. This plant is a member of the Valerianaceae family and is closely related to the more well-known Valerian (Valeriana officinalis).

The Marsh Valerian plant grows up to 1.2 meters tall and has small, delicate white or pink flowers that bloom in the summer months. The leaves are lance-shaped and have a distinct, slightly bitter taste. The roots of the plant are long and slender, and have a strong, fragrant aroma that is said to be similar to Valerian.

Marsh Valerian has a long history of use as a medicinal plant, dating back to ancient times. It was commonly used to treat a variety of ailments, including anxiety, insomnia, and digestive problems. In traditional herbal medicine, the roots of the plant were often dried and used to make tea, which was believed to have a calming effect on the body and mind.

More recently, scientific research has confirmed the efficacy of Marsh Valerian for treating anxiety and insomnia. The active ingredients in the plant have been shown to have a sedative effect on the central nervous system, helping to calm the mind and promote sleep. Additionally, the plant has been shown to have antispasmodic properties, making it useful for treating digestive problems such as cramps and bloating.

Marsh Valerian is also valued for its ornamental value, and is often grown in gardens for its attractive appearance and fragrant aroma. It is easy to grow and can be propagated from seeds or cuttings. The plant prefers moist, fertile soil and can tolerate partial shade, making it well-suited for planting near water features or in areas with high levels of moisture.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Marsh Valerian has also been used as a flavoring in various culinary dishes. The leaves of the plant can be used fresh or dried, and have a slightly bitter taste that pairs well with a variety of flavors. For example, the leaves can be added to soups, stews, or sauces to add depth of flavor. They can also be used to make a tasty tea, either on their own or combined with other herbs such as mint or lemon balm.

The plant is also known for its strong, pungent aroma, which is often used in perfumes and fragrances. The essential oil extracted from the roots of the plant has a musky, sweet scent that is said to be calming and relaxing, making it a popular ingredient in aromatherapy products.

Another interesting fact about Marsh Valerian is that it is a favorite food of many species of butterflies and moths. The nectar from the flowers attracts these insects, and the leaves provide a food source for their larvae. This makes Marsh Valerian an excellent plant to include in a butterfly garden, providing both food and shelter for these beautiful creatures.

Despite its many uses, Marsh Valerian is not widely known or widely cultivated, which is a shame given its versatility and beauty. It is a hardy and easy-to-grow plant that is well-suited to a variety of conditions, and it is a valuable addition to any herb garden.

It is important to note that while Marsh Valerian is generally considered safe, it can have some side effects if taken in large quantities. Some people may experience drowsiness or dizziness if they consume too much of the plant. It is also not recommended for use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, as there is not enough research to determine its safety in these situations.

Additionally, some people may be allergic to Marsh Valerian, so it is always a good idea to test for any adverse reactions before using it internally. If you are taking any prescription medications, it is also important to speak with your doctor before using Marsh Valerian, as it may interact with some drugs.

In terms of cultivation, Marsh Valerian is a hardy plant that is easy to grow in moist, fertile soil. It prefers partial shade, and is well-suited to planting near water features or in areas with high levels of moisture. When growing Marsh Valerian from seeds, it is important to sow them in the spring or early summer and to keep the soil consistently moist until they have germinated. The plants can also be propagated from cuttings, which can be taken in the fall or early spring.

In conclusion, Marsh Valerian is a versatile and useful herb that is well worth considering for your herb garden. With its attractive appearance, fragrant aroma, and numerous medicinal properties, it is sure to become a valued addition to your collection of herbs. Whether you are looking to treat anxiety and insomnia, flavor your cooking, or attract butterflies to your garden, Marsh Valerian is an excellent choice.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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