Valeriana sitchensis

Let’s start a little series on plants and pollinators, and see where that takes us. I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to identify all of the pollinators, but maybe some kind folks will identify and comment.

In this case, I believe this Sitka valerian is being visited by a hoverfly, a fairly common pollinator of plants. While population declines in pollinator groups such as bees and vertebrates get some press, the conservation status and potential effect of a decline in dipterans (flies and mosquitoes) is poorly understood (see: Kearns, C.A. 2001. North American dipteran pollinators: assessing their value and conservation status. Conservation Ecology 5(1): 5). Unfortunately, that likely isn’t going to change soon, if this quote from the discussion section of that paper remains true:

“An attempt to document the conservation status of fly pollinators in North America reveals the need for further basic research into fly pollination systems, and into the natural fluctuations in dipteran abundance. The main impediment to implementing any of the large-scale studies recommended is that intensive collecting efforts produce large numbers of species that require identification. Fly species identifications are often difficult, and the number of fly taxonomists is limited.”

Sitka valerian is native to western North America, where it is typically a plant of mid- to high-elevations in moist meadows and open subalpine forest. In some areas of the Thynne Mountain, where this photograph was taken, it was the dominant herbaceous species. Plants of Southern Interior British Columbia notes that First Nations groups often used the plant as a medicine or disinfectant.

Valeriana sitchensis

11 responses to “Valeriana sitchensis”

  1. Daniel Mosquin

    Ah, and before anyone asks, the blue flower in the background is blue stickseed or blue hackelia, a member of the borage family.

  2. Meg Bernstein

    Thanks so much for the pollinator series. This is just what I’ve been hoping for.

  3. TC

    Should be an interesting thread Daniel.

  4. Annie Gladden

    Just adding my thanks for the pollinator thread. The subject feels so much more accessible in this beautiful and interesting setting.

  5. Margaret-Rae Davis

    I so liked all the information today. When I first looked at this flower I wondered if it had a lovely smell. I will be interesting for me to learn more about pollinators.
    Thank you,

  6. Judith Goedert

    Thank you for any photos and info on pollinators. I started a new pollination lab for my bio course at CCSF last spring. Current input from around the world will be valuable. ~ Judy

  7. elizabeth a airhart

    i live in florida and worries
    about pollinators has been in the news
    if you all know what is makeing
    our sabal palms die we would
    be most thankful thank you

  8. Katy S

    Very interesting. Many thanks Daniel.

  9. Judith Solberg

    Not directly relevant to this photo, but a botanical experience I’d like to share: I’ve been walking up my front steps for a couple of weeks thinking, “That sure looks like a polygonum.” Yesterday pulled out the trusty field guide, opened it to Polygonum, and there was my plant’s picture! Read the description, “has a darker green triangular spot in the center of the leaves,” went and looked, and it was there! Always such a thrill to identify a plant correctly.

  10. Alexander Jablanczy

    This pollinator series is the most important by far. After the obvious and worrisome decline of frogs and other amphibians and the silent spring in the decline of songbirds the most troubling looming catastrophe is the fall in fly and bee numbers. Whether it’s colony dieback or frog fungus the ultimate cause is not the pathogen but the underlying environmental change. It might be UV but most likely herbi pesti insecti fungi cides and other forms of pollution.
    It’s obvious break the link and the chain perishes. No diptera pollinators no flowers or fruit or any other pollinated crop.
    As ye shall sow…
    While there were mosquitoes aplenty this summer I saw one each of hornets bees houseflies and fruitflies, they have simply disappeared.
    I havent heard frogs nor songbirds this spring.

  11. evelyn Valentine

    I came on to your sight to find out where to buy a plant of Valerian. I realize that they do grow in B.C. and I am wondering if I would be able to find one nearby? I live in Osoyoos and on an orchard, on the East Bench.
    You might like to know that Valerian corrects symtoms of nervousness in my feet. Before I knew that paint spray was dangerous I frequently used this stuff and now I have found out that it contains Hexane ( the most highly toxic chemical used in human foods AND paint sprays etc.,) so I have hurt my nervous system and now I have feet that are tender and Valerian corrects this so that I can walk freely.
    If you could tell me where to buy or find a Valerian plant I would be delighted. Thanks Evelyn Valentine

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