There is something slightly odd about this rather lovely plant, the common valerian (Valeriana officinalis). According to my field guide it can be found on dry grassland and in damp woods. Maybe I am reading that wrongly but it seems the two habitats are as different as you can find; dry opposed to damp and grassland as opposed to woodland. Looking at the places it occurs it does seem to be that I have found it in both situations so there must be some basis to it but it still seems odd!
Common valerian is a tall, erect plant growing to as high as six feet in favourable conditions. The flower head is a loose cluster of individual five petalled flowers that start in bud as dark pink but become a much paler shade when open. The sweet scented flowers are at their best in July but can be found in June and August too.
Whilst not common it is far from scarce but it is one of those flower that is always a joy to find; a little bit special perhaps.
Apart from its uses in perfumery the roots are rich in chemicals and have various medicinal uses. It was once thought to be a cure for insomnia but there is, apparently little evidence to support that!