Red Valerian

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Red Valerian
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GardenValerian.jpg



Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Magnoliopsida
Order:Dipsacales
Family:Valerianaceae
Genus:Centranthus
Species:C. ruber

Template:Taxobox section binomial botany

Red Valerian, Centranthus ruber is a popular garden flower with a number of other names, including Spur Valerian, Red Spur Valerian, Jupiter's Beard and others. It is also quite often referred to simply as "Valerian", but this usage is better avoided, because it perpetuates the longstanding confusion between Red Valerian and the true Valerian Valeriana officinalis.

A native of the Mediterranean region, Red Valerian has been introduced into many other parts of the world as a garden escape. It is naturalised in both Britain and the United States. In the US it can be found growing wild in such western states as Arizona, Utah, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Utah, usually in disturbed, rocky places at elevations below 200m. It is often seen by roadsides or in urban wasteland. It can tolerate very alkaline soil conditions, and will grow freely in old walls despite the lime in their mortar.

Red Valerian grows as a perennial plant, usually as a subshrub though it can take any from from a forb to a shrub depending on conditions. Plants are usually woody at the base. The leaves are generally 5–8 cm in length. Their shape changes from the bottom to the top of the plant, the lower leaves being petioled while the upper leaves are sessile. The plant flowers profusely, and though the individual flowers are small (no more than 2cm), the inflorescences are large and showy. The flowers have a strong and somewhat rank scent: they are pollinated by both bees and butterflies and the plant is noted for attracting insects. The flowers are usually a purplish red, but sometimes lavender or white in colour.

Both leaves and roots can be eaten, the leaves either fresh in salads or lightly boiled, the roots boiled in soups. Opinions differ as to whether either make very good eating, however. Although it is sometimes reported to have medicinal properties, there is no basis for this view, which is almost certainly due to confusion with true Valerian.

External links

gl:Alfinete nl:Rode spoorbloem

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