The Herbs, Roots, and Bark Library

Herbs beginning with the letter V

Valerian in bloom a close up of the flowers
Valerian (Valeriana Officinalis, also known as Allheal, Garden Heliotrope, English Valerian, Great Wild Valerian, German Valerian, and Vandalroot) is reportedly the plant that the Pied Piper carried in his pocket to lure the rats out of Hamelin. Arch enemies though they are, cats and rats reportedly share at least one passion; they both like the root of Valerian. Since ancient times people have believed Valerian to be a cure for epilepsy and a host of other disorders, thus accounting for one of the plant's alternative nicknames: Allheal. In Europe, Valerian is the most common nonprescription herbal preparation sold as a sedative, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve Valerian's use as a drug in the United States.

Magickal Uses:

Valerian is an herb of protection, purification, and consecration. Valerian is very cleansing and may be used to purify your ritual space. Useful in consecrating thuribles (incense burners), one may also make an elixer of Valerian to take daily, in moderate doses, during periods of self-purification. For those fortunate enough to grow Valerian in their gardens, all manner of Magick can be worked with the blooms.

Medicinal and Other Uses:

Valerian is most useful as a mild sedative when taken as a tea, but you will want to flavor it with a little mint, cinnamon, or your favorite spice because it has a very strong, near to offensive odor. It is also a good antispasmodic for intestinal pains, and menstrual cramps. It is reported to help with migraine and rheumatic pain as well. Try blending it with Passion Flower and Hops for a good insomnia remedy. **GT** If the plant is grown for the root (medicinal purposes) the flowers must be dead-headed so all the energy goes into the root.


Vertivert is a Tall Grass 13 month old plant showing the extensive root system that controls erosion

Vertivert (Vetiveria zizanioides, also known as Vertiver, khuskhus vetiver, khus khus grass, and khas khas) is a tall grass who's essential oils give off a warm & woodsy aroma. It's been used for everything from aromatherapy (Ex: natural healing for joint mobility), to an environmental planting to correct soil errosion (see photo of the 13 month old plant's root system), to controlling watershed pollutants. If you wish to read further on the usage of Vertiveria for planting go to: for an extensive website.

Magickal Uses:

Ruled by the Earth element, Vertivert is a valuable herb for usage in oils and sachets when one wishes to break a hex, or repel negativity. It's also used in spellworkings for luck, success, and prosperity. Some also use it in love spells.

Medicinal and Other Uses:

Vertivert Roots are the source of the fragrant Vetiver oil, which is used in ayurvedic chakra medicine associated with the "hara". In traditional medicine it's used for muscular aches, to increase circulation, to relieve melancholy and nervous tension, and for restful sleep. It's also in great demand for "fixing" other more volatile oils in soaps and perfumes. The sweet-scented, fibrous roots are used in the making of mats and fans in India. The coarse grass-like leaves are used in thatching and for making paper pulp. The oil is repellant to flies and cockroaches, among other insects, and the plant is widely planted around the world for erosion control. **GT** Vertivert is a prolific grass, so if you don't live in a "freeze zone" you will want to think carefully as to where to plant it! I keep mine growing in a pot, and even then it tries to take over. It can attain a height of six feet.

Vervain a close up of the flowers
Vervain (Verbena Officinalis, also known as Herb of Grace, Herbe Sacrée, Verbena, Holy Wort, Pigeon's Grass, and Herba Veneris) was the altar-plant of the ancient druids, for the druids had the greatest veneration for the plant, and before gathering it they offered a sacrifice to the soil. They also held bunches of Vervain between their hands during their devotions. When the Romans sent messengers of peace to other nations they adorned their apparel with sprays of Vervain. Images of Venus Victrix were often crowned with wreaths of Vervain and Myrtle. Vervain was called "tears of Isis" by the Egyptians. The Romans credited powers of rekindling the flames of dying love to the plant, and gave it the name Herba Veneris (plant of Venus). During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, it became an instrumental component in the rites of witches and sorcerers. In Latin, the name means "sacred herb" and it was used for hundreds of years as a purification herb for altars in homes and temples, for it was considered an herb of magic. It was also the symbol for death. The name Vervain is derived from the Celtic "ferfaen", from fer (to drive away) and "faen" (a stone), as the plant was used for affections of the bladder in olden times.

Magickal Uses:

Vervain is a countermagick herb, an aphrodisiacal herb, an herb of fertility, protection, consecration, immortality, purification, love, and a visionary herb ruled by Venus. Its invocatory can be Diana, Hermes, or Medea. Vervain may be used to enhance the dreaming process, especially if working a Dream Quest. Use it to expand your divinatory skills. Vervain may be used to consecrate and empower any of your ritual tools, altar stones, wands, chalices or thuribles. Vervain makes a wonderful aspurger. Vervain is associated with the metallic element of Mercury, storing a small glass vial of this heavy liquid will help keep the Magick of your Vervain strong. Vervain is used with Opals and Agates. By working with this herb we can come to better understand the mysteries of immortality. Vervain has been used for a very long time to protect people against negative emotions. It is an excellent herb to include in spells and charms which protect the practitioner against the negative from both inner and outside forces. Vervain is used in home blessings as well. Many love spells and romantic formulas include Vervain because of its reputation of being able to empower any Magick. Gather Vervain at Midsummer with the previous year's dried Vervain tossed into the Midsummer fire. Vervain is most potent if fresh cut and worn when performing, for it increases the practitioner's skill and inspires the artistry.

Medicinal and Other Uses:

Vervain is used as an astringent, antispasmodic and fever-reducing agent. Vervain is an effective nervine useful for tension and nervous exhaustion. Vervain is not only effective against depression, but also strongly supports the detoxifying function of the liver. Chinese research has linked the plant with dilation of arteries in the brain, a likely explanation of its usefulness in treating migraines. **WC** Caution: Vervain used improperly can result in paralysis. It effects the parasympathetic nervous system, stimulating the uterus, and should not be used during pregnancy.


A Patch of Violets A Close Up of the Flower
"The forward Violet thus did I chide...

Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal they sweet that smells,

If not from my love's breath? The purple pride

Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells

In my love's veins thou hast too grossly dyed"

The Sonnets, XCIX by William Shakespeare

Violets (Viola Odorata, also called Common Violet, English Violet, and Sweet Violet) are said to have originated from the nymph Io, a daughter of the river god Inachus. Io (sometimes referred to as Isis) and Zeus were developing a romance when Hera (Zeus' significant other at that time) became so jealous that she cast a spell and changed Io into a heifer. In his compassion Zeus changed Io into the Violet. "Ion" is the Greek word for "Viola". In Ancient Greece, Violets were said to have sprang up where Orpheus slept, and Violets became the symbol for the city of Athens. Napolean Bonaparte and his Josephine were devoted Violet fanciers, and he sent her a posy of them on every anniversary. Before leaving for his final exile, he picked Violets from her grave, which were found in a locket around his neck when he died. The Violet is the floral emblem of three states: New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. Don't confuse the true Violet with the African "violet" of the family Gesneriaceae. The two look nothing alike. My yard has always had wild Viola Odorata growing under my Oak canopy, and the best way to spot them is to look for their trademark heart-shaped leaves.

Magickal Uses:

Violet is a funeral herb and an herb of immortality ruled by Venus. Its invocatory can be Io or Zeus. Violets, like Primroses, have been associated with death, especially with the death of the young. Violets are said to bring comfort to a grieving heart, and they are well suited to plant upon a child's grave. Violets are used within rituals of death or dying and can be placed upon the altar whenever prayers are offered to keep the child's memory healthy and alive. Violets offer us the virtues of modesty, simplicity, serenity, and peace. They are a source of inspiration and good fortune for women. Violet is an excellent herb to include in love sachets or potions. Violets are often associated with the Spring Equinox.

Medicinal and Other Uses:

Violets are wonderful because all parts of the plant are used, and all members of the Viola family are edible. Violets contain salicylic acid (a natural aspirin) which acts as a disinfectant and its also fungicidal. The leaves contain Vitamins A and C. The root can be used as a diuretic, for coughs, to reduce inflammation, as a laxative, and as an expectorant. Sweet Violet has a long history of use as a cough remedy and especially for the treatment of bronchitis. It may also be used to aid in the treatment of upper respiratory catarrh. Violet is also used for the skin condition known as eczema. Candied Violet flowers are a delightful treat or decoration, and they make a wonderful gift. Violet is also used for perfume and as a dye. **WC** Gather Violet flowers in full bloom (it doesn't last long), the leaves anytime, and the rootstock in the Fall. Caution: some people are susceptible to dermatitis from the leaf. As with any herb, excess can lead to side effects such as stomach distress, high blood pressure, and breathing problems. **GT** Viola Odorata is a food for Fritillary caterpillars (Butterflies).

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A Compendium of Herbal Magick by Paul Beyerl

A Modern Herbal by Maud Grieve (Vol 1 & 2)

Magickal Herbalism by Scott Cunningham

Edible Wild Plants by Thomas S. Elias & Peter A. Dykeman

Indian Herbalogy by Alma R. Hutchens

Sacred Plant Medicine by Stephen Harrod Buhner

Coyote Medicine by Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D.

Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants by "Wildman" Steve Brill

The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman

The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody

Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham

Magic and Medicine of Plants by Inge N. Dobelis

Information given on this site is not intended to be taken as a replacement for medical advice. Any person with a condition requiring medical attention should consult a medical doctor. This information is given as reference only.