Scouler’s Valerian

Scouler’s valerian (Valeriana scouleri) resembles Sitka valerian (Valeriana sitchensis) so closely that it is often considered a subspecies (Valeriana sitchensis ssp scouleri) of Sitka valerian.

I discussed Sitka valerian in a post late last year (see “Sitka Valerian” from 11-27-2018) so will not repeat myself describing a wildflower for which the information is almost the same. Instead, I will list the differences between the two plants.

Scouler’s valerian compared to Sitka valerian:

* grows at low to mid elevations (below 4,000″) not from 4,000 to 6,000 feet like Sitka,

*has a smooth floral tube without a distended or asymmetrical side,

*the leaves are mostly basal with fewer cauline leaves, and

*has mostly smooth leaf margins.

I came across another explanation for the genus name, Valeriana. Rather than refer to the medicinal properties of these plants (from the Latin “valere” meaning “to be healthy”), the name may be derived from Valeria, a part of Hungary, where another member of the genus grew. Dr. John Scouler (1804 – 1871), a surgeon/naturalist who collected with David Douglas in the Columbia River Region of the Pacific Northwest, is honored by the species designation.

Leonard and I found these Scouler’s valerian plants in May while hiking the Myrtle Creek Botanical Trail in the Smith River National Recreation Area (Del Norte County CA).

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