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