Red valerian

Red Valerian

Red valerian - ©

Red valerian

Scientific name: Centranthus ruber
Red valerian was introduced in the 1600s from Europe, but is now naturalised in the UK. Its pinky-red flowers grow from old walls, roadside verges, railway cuttings and cliffs, and provide nectar for insects.

Species information


Height: up to 75cm

Conservation status

Introduced, but naturalised species.

When to see

May to October


The dense clusters of deep pink, almost crimson flowers, of Red valerian are unmistakeable as they grow out on tall stems from old stone walls, roadside verges, railway cuttings, cliffs and rocks. Introduced into gardens before the 1600s, this plant from the Mediterranean soon escaped and became naturalised in the wild. Despite its non-native status, it is a good source of nectar from May to Otcober for bees, butterflies and moths like the Hummingbird Hawk-moth.

How to identify

Opposite pairs of pale green, oval leaves appear along the upright stems of Red valerian. At the ends of the stems, dense clusters of tiny, pink, red or even white flowers bloom in an almost cylindrical.


Common in the south of the UK, but scarcer further north.

Did you know?

Red valerian is an ideal garden plant, flowering for a long period and attracting all kinds of insects. It likes well-drained soils and can grow on walls and rocks; it self-seeds easily and can look very pretty when left to naturalise in wilder areas of the garden.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts record and monitor our local wildlife to understand the effects of various factors on their populations, such as the introduction of new species. You can help with this vital monitoring work by becoming a volunteer - you'll not only help local wildlife but learn new skills and make new friends along the way.