blue vervain

(Verbena hastata)

Conservation Status
blue vervain
Photo by Kirk Nelson
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
Wetland Indicator Status
     
  Great Plains

FACW - Facultative wetland

     
  Midwest

FACW - Facultative wetland

     
  Northcentral & Northeast

FACW - Facultative wetland

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Blue vervain is an erect, perennial forb that rises on one or two stems from an underground horizontal stem (rhizome) and fibrous roots. It is usually 16 to 60 tall, though in favorable conditions it may reach more than 7 in height. It often forms colonies.

The stems are annual, erect, stout, moderately to strongly square, and branched near the top. They are green to reddish and moderately to densely covered with spreading to appressed hairs.

The leaves are opposite, lance-shaped to oblong lance-shaped or narrowly egg-shaped, 1½ to 8 long, and to 1¾ wide. They are about 5 times as long as wide. They are on short, to 1 long leaf stalks (petioles). The petioles are usually winged toward the top. The leaf blades are rounded, angled, or short tapered at the base, and tapered to a sharp point at the tip. They do not clasp the stem at the base. They have a prominent midvein, several lateral veins that arch toward the tip, and a network of smaller veins between the lateral veins. The lateral veins end before reaching the margin. The upper and lower surfaces are green and sometimes rough to the touch. They are sparsely to moderately covered with short, inconspicuous, loosely appressed, non-glandular hairs. The margins are coarsely toothed with sharp, forward pointing teeth. There are often two, sometimes only one, narrow, forward pointing lobes at the base of the larger leaves, and there is often a pair of small leaves rising from the leaf axils.

The inflorescence is a branched group (panicle) of 5 to many spikes at the end of the stem and branches. The spikes are erect or strongly ascending, unbranched, ¾ to 8 long, and noticeable pointed at the tip. They are short and moderately stout when young, greatly elongated and slender at maturity. The flowers are densely crowded and spirally arranged on the spike. They bloom from the bottom up and only one to a few complete rotations of the spiral are in bloom at any one time. Each blooming flower overlaps adjacent blooming flowers.

Each flower is to ¼ in diameter. There are 5 sepals, 5 petals, 4 stamens, and 1 style. The sepals are green, and are united at the base into a narrowly bell-shaped tube (calyx), then separated into 5 short teeth that are unequal in length. The calyx is 1 16to long. The modified leaves (bracts) at the base of each flower are narrowly lance-shaped, sharply pointed, and 1 16to long. They are slightly shorter than the calyx. The petals are purple to purplish-blue, rarely pink or white, and ¼ to long. They are fused at the base into a slender, funnel-shaped tube then separated into 5 spreading lobes. The lobes are ¼ to 3 16 in diameter and blunt to rounded at the tip. The flowers are not fragrant.

Each flower produces a cluster of 4 reddish-brown nutlets that are enclosed in the persistent calyx but are exposed at the tip. Each nutlet is narrowly oblong to narrowly oblong elliptic in outline and 1 32 to 1 16 long. They may be faintly ridged on the bottom and have a few faint cross ridges toward the top.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

16 to 60

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

Purple to purplish-blue

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
 

Blue vervain (Verbena hastata) leaves are not lobed near the base.

 
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Moist. Marshes, meadows, fields, swamps, roasdside ditches. Full sun.

 
     
 
Ecology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

July to September

 
     
 

Pests and Diseases

 
 

 

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28, 29, 30.

 
  2/25/2023      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  
 

Order

Lamiales (mints, plantains, olives, and allies)  
 

Family

Verbenaceae (verbena)  
  Tribe Verbeneae  
  Genus Verbena (vervain)  
  Section Verbena  
  Series Candelabrae  
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

Some sources, including ITIS, USDA PLANTS, and NatureServe, recognize two varieties: var. hastata, occurring in eastern North America; and var. scabra, with stiffer hairs making the stems and leaves more rough to the touch, occurring in western North America. The ranges of the two varieties overlap broadly in the middle of the continent, and both varieties are found in Minnesota. Steyermark’s Flora of Missouri (Yatskievych, 2006) rejects the separation, stating that the defining characteristics intergrade completely, and some plants in the west have softer hairs. Few other sources recognize the varieties.

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
     
       
 

Common Names

 
 

American blue vervain

blue verbena

blue vervain

Simpler’s-joy

swamp verbena

wild hyssop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Axil

The upper angle where a branch, stem, leaf stalk, or vein diverges.

 

Calyx

The group of outer floral leaves (sepals) below the petals, occasionally forming a tube.

 

Panicle

A pyramidal inflorescence with a main stem and branches. Flowers on the lower, longer branches mature earlier than those on the shorter, upper ones.

 

Petiole

On plants: The stalk of a leaf blade or a compound leaf that attaches it to the stem. On ants and wasps: The constricted first one or two segments of the rear part of the body.

 

Rhizome

A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.

 

Sepal

An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

 

 

 

 

 
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

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Greg Watson

 
 

I was riding my bike along the Wagon Wheel Trail in La Crescent this morning and I was able to get these two pictures of a [Broad-headed] Marsh Fly. A first time for me on seeing one. It is on a Blue Vervain, Verbena hastata.

  broad-headed marsh fly  
 

Luciearl

 
    blue vervain   blue vervain  
 

Sherrie

 
    blue vervain      
 

Kirk Nelson

 
 

Blooming in July on the shore of Snelling Lake

  blue vervain  
           
    blue vervain   blue vervain  
           
 

Done blooming, late September

  blue vervain  
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

Inflorescence

 
    blue vervain   blue vervain  
           
 

Leaves

 
    blue vervain      

 

Camera

     
 
Slideshows
 
Verbena hastata BLUE VERVAIN
Frank Mayfield
  Verbena hastata BLUE VERVAIN  

 

slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

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Other Videos
 
  Minnesota Native Plant - Blue Vervain (Verbena Hastata)
MNNativePlants
 
   
 
About

Published on Jul 15, 2013

This video shows the Blue Vervain (Verbena Hastata), a beautiful plant for your native water garden or pond.

   
  MyNature Apps; Identifying Blue Vervain, Verbena hastata
MyNatureApps
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Aug 5, 2011

How to identify Blue Vervain, Verbena hastata also known as Verbena, Common Verbena, Common Vervain, Eisenkraut, European Vervain, Herb of Grace, Herb of the Cross, Holy wort, Juno's Tears, Pigeon weed, Simpler's Joy, Turkey Grass, Swamp Vervain, Mosquito Plant, and Wild Hyssop

   

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this plant.

 
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Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.
 
  Greg Watson
7/3/2022

Location: La Crescent, MN

I was riding my bike along the Wagon Wheel Trail in La Crescent this morning and I was able to get these two pictures of a [Broad-headed] Marsh Fly. A first time for me on seeing one. It is on a Blue Vervain, Verbena hastata.

broad-headed marsh fly  
  Luciearl
7/17/2019

Location: Lake Shore, Cass County

blue vervain  
  Sherrie
8/1/2018

Location: Lebanon Hills Regional Park (Jensen Lake)

blue vervain  
  Kirk Nelson
9/27/2015

Location: Fort Snelling State Park

Done blooming, late September

blue vervain  
  Kirk Nelson
7/11/2015

Location: Fort Snelling State Park

Blooming in July on the shore of Snelling Lake

blue vervain  
  Kirk Nelson
7/8/2015

Location: Fort Snelling State Park

Blooming in July on the shore of Snelling Lake

blue vervain  
           
 
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