Herbs, perennial. Plants hermaphroditic, gynodioecious, polygamo-dioecious, or dioecious, glabrous or variously pubescent, villous or hirsute, hairs 1- to several celled, white or translucent. Rhizomes elongate, with fibrous roots, or rhizomes reduced, with fascicled, often clavate, roots. Taproots absent (Chinese spp.). Stolons present or absent. Basal leaves rosulate, petiolate or spatulate, undivided, pinnate or pinnatifid, persistent or caducous. Cauline leaves opposite, petiolate to sessile; petiole length typically diminishing upward along stem; blade pinnate, pinnatifid, pinnatisect, or undivided. Inflorescence paniculiform or corymbiform, at anthesis: flowers in remote terminal clusters or in a densely capitate head, branches elongating in fruit; lowermost bracts often lobed, bracts otherwise simple and entire; bracteoles simple, similar to bracts; flowers bisexual, male (not in China?) or female. Calyx a ring at anthesis, unfurling into 5-15 white, plumose segments, 4-8 mm, in mature fruit. Corolla funnelform, rotate or salverform; tube usually gibbous near base; limb 5-lobed. Stamens 3 (4 in Valeriana kawakamii), inserted on corolla tube. Achene compressed dorsally, 3-veined on abaxial side, 1-veined on adaxial side, sterile locules reduced; crowned by persistent, plumose calyx, segments 2-7 mm.
Hierbas bianuales o perennes, raramente arbustos, ocasionalmente escandentes. Inflorescencia un dicasio con muchas flores, compuesto o aglomerado; cáliz de 630 setas plumosas, involutas en la antesis, desdoblándose cuando el fruto madura hasta formar una estructura como vilano que persiste cuando el fruto se dispersa; corola rotácea a infundibuliforme, frecuentemente gibosa, la corola de las flores femeninas comúnmente 1/3 a 1/2 del tamaño de las flores perfectas; estambres 3, vestigiales o ausentes en las flores femeninas; ovario con los 2 lóculos estériles reducidos o vestigiales. Fruto una cipsela con 3 nervios en el lado abaxial, 1 en el lado adaxial y 2 a lo largo del margen; cáliz plumoso persistente o raramente ausente.
Un género con unas 250 especies, de las cuales unas 100 son de Sudamérica y unas 100 de Eurasia; 40 especies ocurren en México y Centroamérica, solamente 5 especies se encuentran en Nicaragua. En las regiones tropicales y subtropicales, Valeriana se encuentra generalmente en elevaciones de más de 500 m, con excepción de unas pocas especies que crecen en sitios menos elevados.
F.G. Meyer. Valeriana in North America and the West Indies (Valerianaceae). Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 38: 377503. 1951.
Erect, sometimes voluble or clambering herbs, rarely shrubs, characteristically foetid when dry, with creeping rhizomes or subnapiform taproots; stems subsca- pose or leafy, fistulose, terete or occasionally more or less quadrangular. Leaves decussate, basal and cauline, spatulate and undivided or pinnate to pinnatifid or rarely bipinnatifid, often imparipinnate, rarely ternate, frequently more or less decurrent on the subpetiolar and more or less clasping-patelliform base, serrate, crenate, dentate, repand or entire, membranous to firm, glabrous or short-pubes- cent, glands and stipules absent. Inflorescences determinate, aggregate-dichasial and thyrsoid or cymose, compound, dense and more or less scorpioid, many- flowered, terminal or sometimes axillary, pyramidal or corymbiform, the cymes more or less flat topped, bracteate and bracteolate. Flowers white, rarely yellow, hermaphroditic, gynodioecious or polygamodioecious, epigynous, irregular or nearly regular in unisexual flowers; calyx initially involute, later spreading, the sessile limb concrescent and short-patelliform, hyaline and membranous, becoming setose in mid-plane, the setae plumose, or the limb short-cupuliform and more or less irregularly toothed or lobed; corolla infundibuliform, subcampanulate or ro- tate, the tube gibbous or straight, usually more or less hairy on the throat, the 5 lobes equal or subequal; stamens 3, rarely 4, adnate on the throat, the anthers essentially sessile and included, or filamentous and exserted, alternate with the corolla lobes, the anthers 4-loculate, introrse, 2-lobed, the tbecae more or less lunate and opposed, the 4 locules equal in length, or 4-lobed, the thecae sulcate, the ventral locules longer than the dorsal and parallel; ovary inferior, basically 3-carpellate, maturing 1 fertile adaxial carpel, the ovule 1, pendulous, anatropous, exalbuminous, the raphe ventral and united, vestigial abaxial carpels 2, the style 1, the stigma 3-lobed, included or exserted. Fruits cypselate achenes, adaxial veins 3, 1 median, 2 peripheral, abaxial veins 3, oriented more or less in the median plane.
"Fls perfect or unisexual; cal initially involute and inconspicuous, later enlarged and spreading, usually with several or many long, setaceous, plumose, pappus-like segments; cor-tube sometimes gibbous at base, the 5 lobes equal or subequal; stamens 3; ovary basically tricarpellate, but 2 of the carpels vestigial; stigma 3- lobed; fr a nerved achene; annual or (ours) perennial herbs with entire to bipinnatifid lvs, the fls in corymbiform to paniculiform or thyrsoid infls of basically determinate nature. 200, nearly cosmop."
Stamens usually 3, epipetalous, alternating with the corolla lobes, frequently exserted.
Style with 3 short lobes or slightly emarginate.
Corolla imbricate, funneliform or campanulate, slightly saccate at the base, with (3–4) 5 lobes.
Calyx small and inrolled but usually developing in fruit into 5–15 plumose awns.
Flowers hermaphrodite or unisexual.
Inflorescence a dichasial cyme or thyrse, rarely subcapitate.
Some species gynodioecious or polygamodioecious at anthesis.
Perennial herbs, rarely climbers, occasionally subshrubs which are somewhat woody at the base; glabrous or sometimes sparsely pubescent with simple hairs; often with a characteristic pungent smell of “valerian” from the rizomes, especially when dry.
Fruit an achene, compressed, with 6 filiform ribs.
Leaves petiolate to nearly sessile, exstipulate; radical leaves entire or toothed, in basal rosette, often long-petioled; cauline leaves pinnatifid, or once–twice-pinnatisect
Inflorescence usually a dichasial cyme or thyrse, sometimes lax or subcapitate; bracts free, opposite, persistent, on the ultimate branchlets only 1 bract of each pair is flower-bearing; bracteoles present
Perennial herbs, vines or subshrubs, usually glabrous or sparsely hairy with short simple hairs, with a bitter taste and peculiar smell especially when dry, fleshy (woody or tuberous) roots, sometimes stoloniferous, occasionally gynodioecious or polygamodioecious
Stamens 3 (rarely 4, and occasionally 1–2 by abortion), inserted toward the top of the corolla-tube, usually exserted, alternating with the corolla-lobes; filaments thin; anthers small, 2-thecous
Style filiform, shortly 3-lobed or subentire, glabrous; stigma simple or 3-lobed
Fruit small, indehiscent, much compressed, with 3 dorsal, 1 ventral, and 2 marginal ribs.
Corolla funnel-shaped or campanulate, caducous after anthesis, small, gibbous, sometimes ± hairy in the throat; lobes (3, 4)5, oblong, patent, imbricate in bud
Calyx small, persistent; limb short during anthesis, inrolled, deeply divided into 10 or more segments, these unrolling in fruit and (in most species) developing into 5–15 plumose awns
Valeriana includes about 250 species. Most species occur in the north tem- perate zone. There is also a concentration of species in South America-prin- cipally in the Andean region, with a smaller concentration in southeastern Brazil- and in Europe and the Middle East.