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Garden heliotrope or Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)


Tall (1-5') herbaceous perennial with fleshy stalks. Introduced as a medicinal plant. Roots have a pungent odor. Plants emerge early in spring.


Regulated areas of valerian
Garden valerian is Restricted (Orange counties)

Other names for this plant include:

  • Common names: garden heliotrope, garden valerian, Greek valerian, common valerian
  • Scientific names: None

Ecological threat:

  • Invades upland forests, wetlands, marshes, woodland swamps, grasslands, and stream edges.
  • Tolerant of both wet and dry conditions.
  • Rapidly expanding its range in Northern Wisconsin
  • Early emergence, vigorous growth habit, and the ability to self-seed gives this species a competitive advantage resulting in displacement of native species.

Classification in Wisconsin: Restricted

Species Assessment Groups (SAG) were assembled to recommend a legal classification for each species considered for NR 40. The recommendation for garden valerian was based upon this literature review developed by the department.


Leaves & stems: Opposite, pinnately compound leaves. 5-25 toothed lanceolate leaflets.

Flowers: White to pale-pink tiny flowers, arranged in tight clusters.

Fruits & seeds: Small oblong capsules release abundant powdery seeds.

Roots: White, fleshy rhizomes with thick fibrous roots and a pungent odor.



Known county distribution of valerian
Counties in WI where garden valerian has been reported (as of October 2013). Both vouchered and unvouchered reports included.

Do you have garden valerian in your county but it isn't shaded on the map? Send us a report.



  • Pull, cut or mow plants prior to flowering.


  • Foliar spray with triclopyr or glyphosate.


View garden valerian pictures in our photo gallery!


Sources for content:

  • Czarapata, Elizabeth; Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest: an illustrated guide to their identification and control. University of Wisconsin Press. 2005. Pg. 70-72
  • Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium. University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Valeriana officinalis. [exit DNR]
  • Invasive Plant Atlas of New England
  • Gleason, H., Cronquist, A. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plant of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada Second Edition; pg 66.

Links for More Information

Last revised: Friday May 31 2019