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Alaska Wildflowers | White

Capitate valerian wildflower in bloom, also known as sharpleaf valerian or Valeriana capitata

Capitate valerian

Valeriana capitata

Alt. Names:
Sharpleaf valerian

Genus: Valeriana L. (valerian)
Family: Valerianaceae (Valerian family)
Order: Dipsacales

Duration: Perennial

Uses: The cooked root has been used historically as a powerful sedative and diuretic [1]. I do not recommend its use without the advice of a medical professional (or at all). The root is poisonous uncooked. There are other members of this genus that are toxic. The seed can only be eaten after cooking, typically steamed. The root is also used as an incense.

Identification – Capitate valerian

Capitate valerian is a 12-50 cm (5-20 in) plant with dark green leaves and dense flowering head. The single stem has large ovate basal leaves and often 2-3 leaf nodes with 2-4 smaller, linear, pointed leaves higher on the stem.


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The flowering head of Capitate valerian is typically 2-3 cm wide. The budding inflorescence is purple, and the flowers on the blooming inflorescence are tubular, white or slightly pink, and approximately 4-5 mm in diameter.

Distribution and Habitat

Valeriana capitata is native to Alaska, Yukon, NWT, British Columbia, and Eurasia. It lives in moist soil or bogs in full sun to part shade. Often found near streams in tundra or open woods.

References

Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg 49
Valeriana capitata – Pall., Plants For A Future pfaf.org
Valeriana capitata  Pall. ex Link, ITIS Database
Valeriana capitata Pall. ex Link captiate valerian, USDA Database
Valeriana capitata : Mountain Valerian, flora.dempstercountry.org

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