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Hairy Valerian (Valeriana edulis var. ciliata)

Life history

Species overview

Hairy Valerian (Valeriana edulis var. ciliata), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in calcareous fens, mesic meadows and prairies. Blooming occurs May through early June; fruiting occurs late June through July. The optimal identification period for this species is May through early September.

Synonyms: Valeriana edulis ssp. ciliata


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Can be distinguished from other Valerian species in Wisconsin (Valeriana officinalis and Valeriana uliginosa) by having a large, thick taproot with a short caudex, and heavily ciliated cauline leaves. A different variety of the same species, Valeriana edulis ssp. Edulis, is found in the Western parts of the country.
  • Flower characteristics: Unisexual whitish-green flowers with 5 petals, and either 3 stamens on the male flowers or three-lobed stigma on the female flowers. Some plants may be bisexual with perfect flowers. Perfect and male flowers are 2.5 to 3.5 mm wide; female flowers are 1 mm wide at most. The corolla tube on all flowers is 3 to 4 mm long. Flowers form an elongate panicle with many lateral branches
  • Fruit characteristics: Ovate to ovate-oblong achene 2 to 4.5 mm long and 1.5 to 3 mm wide, with short hairs
  • Leaf characteristics: Leaves are thick, paralled-veined, and densely ciliate. Basal leaves are 10 to 30 cm long with short, winged petioles, are linear-oblanceolate and entire, with rare examples having 1 to 2 basal divisions. Cauline leaves are smaller and pinnately divided, attached in opposite pairs from a broad, flat rachis.


  • Blooming phenology: May through early June
  • Fruiting phenology: late June through July
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is May through early September


  • Growth form: Forb-herb
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated species: Asclepias sullivantii, Cypripedium candidum, Arnoglossum plantagineum

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Hairy Valerian (Valeriana edulis var. ciliata). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Valeriana edulis var. ciliata in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS3
Global RankG5T3
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in calcareous fens, mesic meadows and prairies.
  • Soils: calcareous soils

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Hairy Valerian. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Hairy Valerian. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • No avoidance measures have been developed for this species.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • No guidance has been developed for this species.


Hairy Valerian Photo.

Photo © Merel R. Black.

Hairy Valerian Photo.

Photo © Ted Cochrane.

Hairy Valerian Photo.

Photo © Derek Anderson.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition