MARSH VALERIAN

Valeriana dioica

Valerian Family [Valerianaceae]

month8apr month8april month8may month8jun month8june

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8white
flower
flower8pink
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZclustered
stem
stem8round
stem
stem8angular
stem
stem8fluted
stem
stem8hollow
sex
sexZdioecious

28th May 2018, Grinlow, Buxton, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
At first your Author thought these were very stunted Common Valerians, for they were taller than all other Marsh Valerians he has seen. At least one of these specimens is female (the one your Author picked for a closer look). It is quite possible a great many are female, if not all?. But these 'hillocks' are actually heaps of lime spoil from limestone making in the area, so your Author is surprised that Marsh Valerian should be growing on the side of these mounds; they are not exactly boggy or marshy.


28th May 2018, Grinlow, Buxton, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
Marsh Valerian grows to 40cm high. this is the largest population your Author has espied.


28th May 2018, Grinlow, Buxton, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
  The flowers are in tight clusters. The end-lobes of Marsh Valerian are proportioanally wider than those of Common Valerian, becoming wider the further down the stem you look.


28th May 2018, Grinlow, Buxton, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
  This is a female plant with only female flowers, without anthers, just styles.


28th May 2018, Grinlow, Buxton, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
  There are usually three short stigmas atop a much longer style, all white. There is one other large difference between male flowers and their female conterparts: the male flowers are larger (being 4-6mm across) than the females shown here above which are just 2-4mm across.


28th May 2018, Grinlow, Buxton, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
  The larger leaves are mainly lacking teeth and are also not triangular in outline as are those of Common Valerian nor do they taper to a sharpish point. The end lobes are wide-oval to narrower-oval.


28th May 2018, Grinlow, Buxton, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
  The stem is probably much the same for male or female plants; This specimen had a single right-angle plus a curved bit, and a groove up the corner of the right angle, but no doubt they do vary somewhat. It is hollow.


10th May 2014, Basecamp, High Wray, Windermere, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
Much shorter than Common Valeria, at up to 40cm. Basal leaves are oval, as seen here.


10th May 2014, Basecamp, High Wray, Windermere, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
An un-branched plant with what looks like several umbels of pink to white flowers.


10th May 2014, Basecamp, High Wray, Windermere, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
Un-like Common Valerian, the leaves are rounded at the ends.


10th May 2014, Basecamp, High Wray, Windermere, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
  Near the summit is a central larger bunch of flowers, and two smaller satellite either side. Directly beneath where stems bifurcate are a couple of opposite leaves with rounded ends.


10th May 2014, Basecamp, High Wray, Windermere, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
  Lower down the stem other paired satellite flowering stems may occur, with progressively larger oppositely-paired pinnate leaves.


10th May 2014, Basecamp, High Wray, Windermere, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
  The end lobe of the leaves are wider than the rest un-like those on Common Valerian as well as being rounded at the ends (rather than pointed).


10th May 2014, Basecamp, High Wray, Windermere, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
 Flowers white to pale to dark-pink with five petals.


10th May 2014, Basecamp, High Wray, Windermere, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
 It is dioecious with male and female flowers on separate plants. This specimen has stamens and anthers so is male.


10th May 2014, Basecamp, High Wray, Windermere, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
 The flowers are small and in tight clusters. Male flowers (as here) are, at 4-6mm, about twice the size of the 2-4mm of female flowers. A very small raindrop sits atop an anther. The large (in comparison) anthers have dropped off some of the flowers. Other flower buds have yet to open (right).


9th June 2018, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
  Growing amongst moss, albeit scorched after a 6 weeks of sunshine. The basal leaves seem to be 4 in mumber and oval to heart-shaped.


9th June 2018, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
  The second group of flowers is browning, but cannot turn to seed - for this is a male plant (as seen by the pale-pink anthers).


9th June 2018, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
  The flower head is a candelabra-type, with one bunch in the centre, below that two bunches on opposite arms, and the third bunch on opposite arms ate right angles to the one above. The stem is also fluted. The five green sepals below each floret are long and narrow.


9th June 2018, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
  Long white filaments with pale pink anthers atop (no, not pink panthers). Petals rounded at their ends.


9th June 2018, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
  Pink anthers shaped like baseball gloves ready to catch cricket balls... Some parts of the petals are transparent on this specimen.


9th June 2018, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
  Four lower leaves with oval terminations. The basal leaves are untoothed and often with stalks (here half hidden by moss). The upper set of opposite leaves have the beginnings of side-lobes (two in this instance).


Can be confused with : Common Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) [but see caption text and below]

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature :

Although Common Valerian also grows in damp places such as damp grassland, woods and in dry grassland, Marsh Valerian grows only in marshes, marshy grassland, fens and bogs. It is also, at up to 40cm, much shorter than Common Valerian which stands up to 2m. The other main distinction are the oval basal leaves of Marsh Valerian, and also the shape of the stem leaves, which, in opposite pairs and pinnate like Common Valerian, have leaflets with rounded (rather than pointed) and a broader end leaflet. The pinnate stem leaflets of Marsh Valerian are also un-toothed whereas those of Common Valerian (especially those lower down the plant) have a few irregular forward-pointing teeth. Whereas Common Valerian is bisexual Marsh Valerian is dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants.


  Valeriana dioica  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Valerianaceae  

Distribution
 family8Valerian family8Valerianaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Valeriana
Valeriana
(Valerians)

MARSH VALERIAN

Valeriana dioica

Valerian Family [Valerianaceae]