June 22, 2017

Calming Effect

Valeriana officinalis - Garden heliotrope

Janine Pineo Photo | Valeriana officinalis – Garden heliotrope

There’s nothing quite like a stand of Valeriana officinalis in full bloom, gently swaying in the breeze as its light, sweet scent wafts over and around. Just that combination of perfume and vision alone is enough to soothe the gardener’s soul, but this non-native medicinal herb has long been ingested in some form since the time of ancient Greece and Rome. Why? Because it is has sedative effects and is also used to treat anxiety. Hardy to Zone 4, garden heliotrope can become invasive if it likes its location, particularly moist and partly shady locations. The plant’s leaves tend to cluster around the base, growing more sparse up the tall flower stalk that can easily reach 5 feet in height. The flowerhead is made up of tiny five-petaled flowers, which are quite attractive to bees and butterflies. And a few humans, too.