RED VALERIAN

SPUR VALERIAN

Kiss-me-quick, Drunken Sailor, Sweet Betsy

Centranthus ruber

Valerian Family [Valerianaceae]  

month8apr month8april month8May month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8Aug month8sep month8sept month8Oct

status
statusZneophyte
 
flower
flower8red
 
flower
flower8pink
 
flower
flower8white
 
inner
inner8red
 
morph
morph8zygo
 
petals
petalsZ5
 
type
typeZclustered
 
type
typeZspurred
long
stem
stem8round
 
smell
smell8scent smell8perfume smell8perfumed smell8fragrant
scent

15th July 2005, Warton Fell, Carnforth. Photo: © RWD
About 80cm tall, growing in small clumps. White Form.


15th July 2005, Warton Fell, Carnforth. Photo: © RWD
Leaves pale green and pointed oval in shape. White Form


15th July 2005, Warton Fell, Carnforth. Photo: © RWD
Flowers zygomorphic in form, bilaterally symmetric with five equal-lengthened lobes resembling those of Pyramidal Orchid, except that there are 4 + 1 lobes, rather than the 3 + 1 lobes of Pyramidal Orchid. Note the long parallel-sided white spurs behind the petals pointing down deep into the flower head. White Form


4th May 2005, Offas Dyke Path, Prestatyn. Photo: © RWD
Leaves light green, somewhat glaucous, with prominent lighter veins. They are broad lanceolate and in pairs up the stem, the upper ones stalkless and almost clasping the stem, the lower ones on short stalks. Red Form


27th May 2005, Chinley, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Red Form


27th May 2005, Chinley, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Red Form


25th June 2005, Peak Forest Canal, Furness Vale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Pinky Red Form


25th June 2005, Peak Forest Canal, Furness Vale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Pinky Red Form


25th June 2005, Peak Forest Canal, Furness Vale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Pink Form


25th June 2005, Peak Forest Canal, Furness Vale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Pink Form


25th June 2005, Peak Forest Canal, Furness Vale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Pink Form


11th July 2012, yet another Salford car park! Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Flowering head elongates and opens out when about to set seed. Topper-most still has flowers with spurs, the rest has turned to seed.


11th July 2012, yet another Salford car park! Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The reason why the alternative name of Red Valerian is 'Spur Valerian': the long spurs are not normally visible in the dense flower head, but here the lower part is turning to seed.


11th July 2012, yet another Salford car park! Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The seed head of a white variety.


11th July 2012, yet another Salford car park! Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The seed head of a red variety. Note the reddish flower stalks.


11th July 2012, yet another Salford car park! Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Each flower turns to one seed capsule with a folded parachute attached to the top.


11th July 2012, yet another Salford car park! Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The parachutes unfurl. Note the narrow, pointed, red bracts or stipules on the stems.


11th July 2012, yet another Salford car park! Lancs. Photo: © RWD
A seed capsule with an open parachute atop.


11th July 2012, yet another Salford car park! Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The parachute is like a shuttlecock with a fan of 20 or so white strands. Attached to each are feather-like hairs to catch the wind and take away the seed capsule.


11th July 2012, yet another Salford car park! Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The leaves of a young plant.


Some similarities to : Hemp-agrimony and to Common Valerian.

Red Valerian is a Mediterranean species introduced to the UK before 1600. It comes in red, pink and white strains, plus a much rarer cream variety. It is fragrant, smelling of scent.

Fully naturalised in dry places on walls, rocks, cliffs, alkaline or sand banks, and quarries, especially near the sea.

Flower heads are flattish to curved at first, becoming domed a while later and finally elongating and opening out before turning to seed, when the petals and spurs fall off. Later the seed capsule un-furls its integral parachute to be carried off on the wind to seed other places just like Dandelion seeds do. The spur at the rear of the flower is short.

PARACHUTE (Pappus) and COTTON-HAIRED SEEDS
It is one of the very few (your Author doesn't yet know how many) flowers to have parachute seeds that do not belong to the Daisy and Dandelion Family (Asteraceae). But the parachutes are one for each flower, and the flowers are in singles, and open in a different way to those of Asteraceae.

Willowherbs such as Rosebay Willowherb and Great Willowherb (which are within the Onagraceae family) also release parachute seeds. Other plants that have cottony seeds (but not parachutes) are the Willows (Salix genus of the Salicaceae Family) of such as Pussy Willow, and the Clemetis genus plants of the Ranunculaceae family such as Traveller's-Joy and Virgin's-Bower and plants of the Eriophorum genus (in the Poaceae family) such as Bog Cotton. On Water Avens the hairs are branched.

It should also be realised that by no means every member of the Asteraceae family has parachute seeds; Daisies (Bellis genus) do not, and neither do a great many other Asteraceae Genera such as Sunflower, which has seeds without hairs. But Cat's-ears, Goat's-beards, Hawkweeds, Fleabanes, Ragworts, Colt's-foot, Thistles, Butterbur, Dandelion, Nipplewort, Hemp-agrimony, Globe Artichoke, Hawk's-beards(?), Sow-thistles, Lettuces(?) do.


  Centranthus ruber  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Valerianaceae  

Distribution
family8Valerian family8Valerianaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Centranthus
Centranthus
(Valerians)

RED VALERIAN

SPUR VALERIAN

Kiss-me-quick, Drunken Sailor, Sweet Betsy

Centranthus ruber

Valerian Family [Valerianaceae]  

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