The herbaceous perennial Valeriana officinalis is found throughout Europe from Spain to Iceland, extending also from the Crimaea, over Northern Asia, into China. It not only grows wild, but in England especially is cultivated as a drug plant. It was known to the Greeks and Romans, and the wild nard described by Dioscorides (194) and Pliny (514) is supposed to be a species of valerian, of which, in addition to the Valeriana officinalis, nine species are found in Asia Minor. The name valerian, however, was not used by the classical writers, occurring first in the ninth and tenth centuries. It is found in the Anglo-Saxon names of home remedies, and in domestic books as early as the eleventh century. Saladinus (570) of Ascoli, 1450, directed that the root be collected in the month of August. In mediaeval days in England the flavor of valerian was considered by the common people a delightful addition to broths and pottages, Gerarde (262) in his Herball, 1567, remarking that the poorer classes of people in the north of England did not consider such forms of food worth anything without it. Strangely enough also the odor of valerian, now considered exceedingly disagreeable, was in the sixteenth century accepted as a perfume, and as a perfume it is still used in the Orient. In this connection we will add that we have known valerian to be a constituent of a perfume very popular with some ladies, but exceedingly unpleasant to some other people. In domestic medicine a tea from the root of valerian has been employed as a stimulant and antispasmodic in nervous diseases peculiar to females.
The History of the Vegetable Drugs of the U.S.P., 1911, was written by John Uri Lloyd.