Station: [19] Red Valerian and Other Useful Plants

M 1: In addition to lavender, thyme and winter savoury, there’s also red valerian growing in the scent garden. This bushy perennial with its many tiny flowers can grow up to 80 centimetres or over two and a half feet tall. It flowers almost all year round. But red valerian isn’t just colourful and pretty, it’s also a medicinal plant. Its Latin name is centrathus ruber, and it’s a subspecies of the valerian family. But it contains up to five times more active substances than valerian – or valeriana officinalis – itself. A mildly sedative tea can be made from the roots – though it shouldn’t be drunk in excess! The young red valerian leaves can be added to salad, and this hardy perennial is also very beneficial for insects.

Another interesting plant that’s often undervalued is glechoma hederacea, or ground ivy, with its round leaves and tiny purple flowers. In the Middle Ages, the learned abbess Hildegard von Bingen recommended its use to treat states of exhaustion. These days, we know that ground ivy is especially rich in vitamin C. Though often considered a weed, it is regaining importance in gardens in Europe. Again, the young leaves can be added to salads. You can also turn it into a delicious soft drink. But if you plan to do that, you need to make sure it has been organically grown.

Foto: © Stiftung Kloster Jerichow