Middle English, from Anglo-French or Medieval Latin; Anglo-French valeriane, from Medieval Latin valeriana, probably from feminine of valerianus of Valeria, from Valeria, Roman province formerly part of Pannonia
: any of a genus (Valeriana of the family Valerianaceae, the valerian family) of perennial herbs many of which possess medicinal properties
: a preparation of the dried rhizome and roots of the garden heliotrope (Valeriana officinalis) that is used as an herbal remedy and is held to be beneficial in treating nervousness and insomnia—called also valerian root
Any of the more than 400 species of annual and perennial herbaceous plants in about 10 genera that make up the family Valerianaceae. A few are outstanding as ornamentals, salad or potherbs, or as sources of medicines and perfumes. Greek valerian is Jacob's ladder (Polemonium caeruleum), in the family Polemoniaceae. The true valerians (native to the temperate zones, the Andes Mtns., and Africa) have tubular flowers, often spurred at the base and clustered in tight heads. The largest genus, Valeriana, contains about 200 species and is best known for common valerian (V. officinalis), used by modern herbalists to calm the nerves.