[Valerians and Heliotropes: The Genus Valeriana East of the Cascade Mts. of Oregon and Washington]

Mountain Heliotrope, Sitka Valerian

Valeriana sitchensis

Synonyms: Valerianella sitchensis, Valeriana sitchensis var. hookeri, Valeriana sitchensis var. sitchensis

Inflorescence of Mountain Heliotrope, Sitka Valerian: Valeriana sitchensis (Synonyms: Valerianella sitchensis, Valeriana sitchensis var. hookeri, Valeriana sitchensis var. sitchensis)

The photo above shows a close-up of the inflorescence of Sitka valerian as seen on a small side road veering east off of the King Mt. Rd #200, immediately prior to reaching the Yakama Tract D Boundary........May 28, 2005. Note the toothed margins of the leaflets.

Characteristics:

Mountain heliotrope is a beautiful wildflower for the moist woodland or meadow garden. It is a fibrous-rooted perennial from a thick, branched rhizome with one or more stems from 30-120 cm tall. The herbage is usually smooth, although occasionally short-hairy. The 2-5 pairs of leaves are mainly found on the stems. The leaves are opposite on the stems, and each is compound pinnate, with 1-4 pairs of lobes below the large terminal leaflet (See photo below.). The petioles are long and thin. The lower leaves are reduced in size, while the upper are much larger. The leaves range from 10-20 cm long. The terminal leaflet is obovate and up to 10 cm long and 7 cm wide. The lower pairs of lobes are often at least 1 cm wide. The leaflet margins are strongly wavy, scalloped, or with large, rounded teeth.

The inflorescence is compact, ranging from 2.5-8 cm wide. The flowers are perfect, with white corollas from 4.5-7 mm long, and the lobes less than half as long as the tube. The stamens are well exserted from the mouth of the corolla.

Mountain heliotrope is palatable to sheep, deer, and elk. The roots are foul smelling and tasting.


Habitat:

Mountain heliotrope is a plant of open to wooded places, especially cool, wet meadows at middle and upper altitudes in the mountains.


Range:

Mountain heliotrope may be found from southern Alaska and the southern Yukon south to northern California and east to western Montana and central Idaho. It is evidently not found in the coast range of Oregon nor in the lowlands of the Puget trough and Willamette Valley as it is replaced by Scouler's heliotrope in these areas.


Stem leaves of Mountain Heliotrope, Sitka Valerian: Valeriana sitchensis (Synonyms: Valerianella sitchensis, Valeriana sitchensis var. hookeri, Valeriana sitchensis var. sitchensis) - Mountain Heliotrope, Sitka Valerian: Valeriana sitchensis (Synonyms: Valerianella sitchensis, Valeriana sitchensis var. hookeri, Valeriana sitchensis var. sitchensis) - Inflorescence of Mountain Heliotrope, Sitka Valerian: Valeriana sitchensis (Synonyms: Valerianella sitchensis, Valeriana sitchensis var. hookeri, Valeriana sitchensis var. sitchensis)

Mountain heliotrope blooming along the Line Butte Trail #807 on the southern slopes of Lookout Mountain, Ochoco National Forest.........June 22, 2017.

Mountain Heliotrope, Sitka Valerian: Valeriana sitchensis (Synonyms: Valerianella sitchensis, Valeriana sitchensis var. hookeri, Valeriana sitchensis var. sitchensis)

Mountain heliotrope blooming in a moist spot along the Roads End Trail, Strawberry Mountain Wilderness.........August 3, 2011.

Mountain Heliotrope, Sitka Valerian: Valeriana sitchensis (Synonyms: Valerianella sitchensis, Valeriana sitchensis var. hookeri, Valeriana sitchensis var. sitchensis)

This photo shows sitka valerian as seen along Road #4670 at Billy Meadows Guard Station in the northern Wallowa-Whitman N.F..........June 26, 2008. Piper's anemone can be seen in bloom at left.

Inflorescence of Mountain Heliotrope, Sitka Valerian: Valeriana sitchensis (Synonyms: Valerianella sitchensis, Valeriana sitchensis var. hookeri, Valeriana sitchensis var. sitchensis) - Inflorescence of Mountain Heliotrope, Sitka Valerian: Valeriana sitchensis (Synonyms: Valerianella sitchensis, Valeriana sitchensis var. hookeri, Valeriana sitchensis var. sitchensis)

These 2 photos show close-up views of the inflorescence of sitka valerian as seen along Road #4670 at Billy Meadows Guard Station in the northern Wallowa-Whitman N.F.........June 26, 2008.

Stem leaves of Mountain Heliotrope, Sitka Valerian: Valeriana sitchensis (Synonyms: Valerianella sitchensis, Valeriana sitchensis var. hookeri, Valeriana sitchensis var. sitchensis)

The photo above shows the pinnately compond leaves of mid stem of mountain heliotrope. Note again the toothed leaflet margins.

Close-up sideview of the inflorescence of Mountain Heliotrope, Sitka Valerian: Valeriana sitchensis (Synonyms: Valerianella sitchensis, Valeriana sitchensis var. hookeri, Valeriana sitchensis var. sitchensis) - Inflorescence of Mountain Heliotrope, Sitka Valerian: Valeriana sitchensis (Synonyms: Valerianella sitchensis, Valeriana sitchensis var. hookeri, Valeriana sitchensis var. sitchensis) - Mountain Heliotrope, Sitka Valerian: Valeriana sitchensis (Synonyms: Valerianella sitchensis, Valeriana sitchensis var. hookeri, Valeriana sitchensis var. sitchensis)

Mountain heliotrope as seen at along Forest Service Road #3517, Wenatchee National Forest.............July 6, 2012.

Mountain Heliotrope, Sitka Valerian: Valeriana sitchensis (Synonyms: Valerianella sitchensis, Valeriana sitchensis var. hookeri, Valeriana sitchensis var. sitchensis) - Mountain Heliotrope, Sitka Valerian: Valeriana sitchensis (Synonyms: Valerianella sitchensis, Valeriana sitchensis var. hookeri, Valeriana sitchensis var. sitchensis)

Mountain Heliotrope, Sitka Valerian: Valeriana sitchensis (Synonyms: Valerianella sitchensis, Valeriana sitchensis var. hookeri, Valeriana sitchensis var. sitchensis) - Mountain Heliotrope, Sitka Valerian: Valeriana sitchensis (Synonyms: Valerianella sitchensis, Valeriana sitchensis var. hookeri, Valeriana sitchensis var. sitchensis)

Additional close-up photos of mountain heliotrope as seen along Forest Service Road #2230 on Mount Pisgah, Ochoco National Forest.........June 13, 2015.

Basal leaf of Mountain Heliotrope, Sitka Valerian: Valeriana sitchensis (Synonyms: Valerianella sitchensis, Valeriana sitchensis var. hookeri, Valeriana sitchensis var. sitchensis)

Paul Slichter