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Valerian

flowers, leaves, odor and roots

VALERIAN, the type genus (Valerians) of the valerian family, herbs or shrubs having flowers with five-parted perianths, and funnel shaped, short-spurred corollas, which are gen erally of a pale rose-color. The calyx, which is rudimentary, when in flower, becomes a feathery pappus at the top of the fruit. The leaves are simple or pinnate, without stipules, and the small blossoms are gathered into pro fusely branched cymose inflorescences, usually terminal. They have a spicy, aromatic odor, very grateful in spring, and are sometimes so fragrant, as in the case of Valeriana sitchensis and V. officinolis as to suggest heliotrope. The latter species is the common, or great wild va lerian, which is cultivated in gardens for its flowers and its root. It has an erect stem, two to five feet tall, with pinnate leaves and toothed leaflets, and very fragrant flowers in pale tones of lavender, pink and white. The ascending rhizome, with many fibrous roots, has a peculiar, pungent and most disagreeable odor, due to the volatile oil of valerian contained in it, which grows stronger and worse when old. The taste is bitter, and like camphor, and the root is an officinal drug, which is a stimulant and anodyne, used in hysteria, and as an antispasmodic. Cats are very fond of the odor of valerian, and tear the plant to pieces and roll in it. They are said even to dig up the roots and devour them. A bit of the root is also used as a bait for catch ing rats. The carrot-like roots of Valerians

edulis, a tall glabrous plant of the western United States with undivided stem leaves, and yellowish-white flowers in elongated panicles, are eaten by the Indians either raw or dried. The Pah-Utcs even grind them into flour and use it in the form of bread or mush. Nard is a name given to various species of valerian, but particularly to V. celtica, employed by Eastern nations as a substitute for spikenard in their scented baths; it is, likewise, called Celtic spike nard, and, like the Cretan spikenard (Valerian phu), has medicinal properties similar to, but weaker.than, the officinal valerian. The Greek valerian is Polemonium cceruleum, mistaken by old herbalists for the valerian described by the ancient Hellenes, and the name has been ap plied to the whole genus, including the creeping American P. reptans, 'with delicate 'nodding corynrbs of pale blue flowers. Cent rant hut ruber is the scarlet lightning or spurred or red valerian, cultivated for its oblong panicle of scarlet flowers. The African or Algerian vale rian (Fedia cornucopia) is used as a salad plant in Algeria. It is low, glabrous and branching, with oval leaves, and tubular, long, pink flow ers. It can be cultivated and eaten like corn salad, but is not so hardy.