Perennial herb with fibrous roots 30 cm - 1 m tall Stem: reduced to a short woody base (caudex) or a stout branched rhizome. The flower stem is erect. Leaves: opposite. The basal leaves are stalked, 5 - 15 cm long, 2 - 8 cm wide, elliptic-egg-shaped to inversely egg-shaped, sometimes toothed or with a small basal pair of lobes, and hairless or nearly so. The three to six pairs of stem leaves 6 - 16 cm long, 5 - 10 cm wide, incompletely pinnate (pinnatifid), hairy along margins. Flowers: bisexual, borne in a more or less flat-topped inflorescence, 5 - 7 mm long, with calyx lobes rolled up at flowering and unrolled in fruit, petals fused into a five-lobed tube, three stamens, and a three-lobed stigma. Fruit: a hairless achene, 3 - 5 mm long, 1.5 - 2 mm across, lance-shaped to oblong-egg-shaped.
Similar species: Valeriana species have pinnately divided stem leaves and calyx lobes that are rolled up at flowering but unroll on the mature fruit. Valeriana edulis and Valeriana ciliata are distinguished by their taproots. Valeriana officinalis differs by its basal leaves, which are pinnately divided.
Flowering: mid May to early June
Habitat and ecology: Rare in fens.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: Valeriana is the medieval Latin name for valerian. It may have been derived from the Latin word valere, meaning healthy, referring to its medicinal use. Uliginosa means "of swamps or marshes."
Fibrous-rooted perennial from a stout branched rhizome or caudex, 3-10 dm, glabrous or nearly so; basal lvs long-petiolate, the blade ovate-elliptic to obovate, 6-14 cm, toothed or entire, or with a single pair of small basilateral lobes; cauline lvs 3-6 pairs, well developed, pinnatifid, ciliate; fls all perfect, the cor 5-7 mm; achenes lanceolate to ovate-oblong, 3-4 mm, glabrous. Marshy meadows, swamps, and bogs; Me. and s. Que. to N.Y., n. O., w. Mich., and n. Ill. May-July. (V. septentrionalis var. u.)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.