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Plant Identification: SOLVED: Supposedly a Heliotrope...I have my doubts

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Forum: Plant IdentificationReplies: 5, Views: 145
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Newark, OH
(Zone 5b)

April 28, 2001
4:07 AM

Post #4229

A friend gave me starts of this plant. She says it's an old garden plant from her mother's garden and claims it's Heliotrope. It's perennial here in zone 5 and appears to spread by rhizome. It grows 4' high and has highly fragrant white flowers which bloom in early May...

But this looks nothing like the Heliotrope I've bought at the local nursery (see picture on right). I know there are some 250 in the genus, but this just looks sooo different! Is this gift plant Heliotrope? If so, do you know what variety it might be? I can post photos of its bloom if this big plant's bloom doesn't poop out on my from transplant shock!

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Panama, NY
(Zone 5a)

April 28, 2001
10:23 AM

Post #71450

Well, your both right, after a fashion. It is called "garden heliotrope'. It is Valerian - very old garden plant and they do spread like crazy given half a chance. My mother loves them, around here they are known as the stinky plant!
Westbrook, ME
(Zone 5a)

April 28, 2001
12:04 PM

Post #71456

Yes ...I have to agree with Kathleen. You have valerian or 'Garden heliotrope'. I've grown it for several years and love the fragrance of the flowers. The roots are used as a medicinal herb and boy do they stink! They have that sweaty, dirty-sock aroma. Yum!

It is a spreader so be careful where you plant it. I have a couple of pictures of the flowers on my homepage
Newark, OH
(Zone 5b)

April 28, 2001
5:32 PM

Post #71506

LOL -- So she was right, sort of! That's the problem with common names versus botanical names. Now, you want to know what's *really* funny? I moved a clump of this from behind the neighbor's fence into my yard last year. I don't even recall if it was blooming at the time; I think I just really liked the leaves. Well, this year, it's a nice-sized clump and I have some babies to put in the bed with it. I'm glad it's a spreader because it's under the fir trees and I'd like something to fill in. I even planted... *mint* under there, you guys! ;o)
Panama, NY
(Zone 5a)

April 28, 2001
7:27 PM

Post #71522

Oh no!!!! NOT THAT!!!

ain't gardening fun????
Deep South Coastal, TX
(Zone 10a)

April 29, 2001
3:09 AM

Post #71589

Don't they make a tea out of the roots of the valerian? it is supposed to make you sleepy.

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