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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

14 November, 2016

Marsh Valerian: his and hers



The marsh valerian (Valeriana dioica) is certainly a plant that likes wet meadows and marshy areas and so is aptly named. Often found in places where rivers overflow frequently or where low ground next to a river is constantly under water; it does not grow in running water. As much of this sort of habitat has been drained for agricultural improvement this is a now more scarce than it one was.
An attractive plant with clusters of small, five-petalled pale pink or cream flowers that appear from April until June. Interestingly, although very similar in appearance this species has separate female and male flowers and each grow on different plants. Its main way of spreading is by underground runners. The plant grows to no more than two feet tall at the most and has opposite pairs of leaf sets, each set being a series of small, narrow oval leafs again in pairs along a short stem, a bit like rose leaves.
Traditionally used to create sleeping potions it is still used in the production of sedatives today. It is one of those plants you are advised to avoid eating, it is not poisonous but it is not good for you.
Marsh Valerian: his and hers