It is a perennial flowering plant native to Europe and Asia. The mature plant may have a height of 1.5 metres, it bears sweetly scented pink or white flowers that attract many fly species, especially hoverflies of the genus Eristalis. It is consumed as food by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species.
Crude extract of valerian root may have sedative and anxiolytic effects, and is commonly sold in dietary supplement capsules to promote sleep, but clinical evidence that it is effective for this purpose is weak or inconclusive as yet. Its roots and leaves cause a catnip-like response in cats.
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