Blue Verbena, Blue Vervain, Simpler’s Joy, Swamp Verbena, Swamp Vervain, Wild Hyssop
Synonyms of Verbena hastata (11) (Updated on 1-17-23 from Plants of the World Online: Verbena hastata f. albiflora Moldenke, Verbena hastata f. caerulea Moldenke, Verbena hastata var. oblongifolia Nutt., Verbena hastata var. paniculata (Lam.) Farw., Verbena hastata var. pinnatifida (Lam.) Pursh, Verbena hastata var. rosea N.Coleman, Verbena hastata f. rosea (Coleman) R.H.Cheney, Verbena hastata var. scabra Moldenke, Verbena paniculata Lam., Verbena paniculata var. pinnatifida (Lam.) Schauer, Verbena pinnatifida Lam.
Verbena hastata L. is the accepted scientific name for this species of Verbena. The genus and species were named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
As of 1-17-23 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 150 species in the Verbena genus. It is a member of the plant family Verbenaceae with 31 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.
The above distribution map for Verbena hastata is from the USDA Plants Database. The map on Plants of the World Online is similar but doesn’t show a couple of states. It also shows where the species has been introduced to Austria, Great Britain, and Jamaica. In some states, the species may be found in only one to a few locations. Most maps online are from old data so the species could even be extinct in some states. Maps do, however, give us a general idea.
The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members post new observations.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND TO HELP WITH A BETTER POSITIVE ID.
I first spotted and identified the Verbena hastata on the farm on September 8 in 2018. On July 25 in 2019, I spotted a few while working on a friend’s pasture north of town. Then, on August 2, also in 2019, I took photos of a HUGE plant growing in the ditch along the street in front of the park. I had been watching this plant for a while but I never seemed to have my camera. Normally, the park caretaker keeps the ditch trimmed (or sprayed) so I knew I had to get photos. Finally, I walked down the road and took a few photos. Farrington Park is next to the farm with the Rock Island spur of the Katy Trail between us.
Verbena hastata is a native perennial wildflower that can be found throughout North America. The species is quite widespread in a few states, while it is fairly uncommon in others.
Plants of this species grow fairly tall, up to 5’, in optimal conditions. It is easily recognized as a Verbena species from its inflorescence and its more slender opposite leaves.
Verbena hastata can be found in full sun to part shade in pastures and prairies, along ditches and roadsides, pond margins, along streams and rivers, bottomland, damp forests, and in fence rows, etc. It prefers damp loamy soil and will even tolerate standing water for a short period.
There are more photos at the bottom of the page below the links for further reading.
Their stems are usually erect but have been known to lay down on the job (ascending). The stems are 4-angled (somewhat square), can be green or reddish, and are fairly to densely pubescent (hairy). Plants branch out along the upper half of the main stem in the leaf axils.
Leaves grow in an opposite manner along the stem, sometimes in pairs, especially where branching occurs in the upper half. The leaves are lanceolate to narrowly ovate with short petioles (leaf stems) that are winged toward the tip, have toothed margins, and taper to a sharply pointed tip. Both leaf surfaces are pubescent and rough in texture. The leaves grow from about 2 to 6-8” long and about 1” to 1 1/2- 2” wide. The size is quite variable depending on where the leaves are on the plant and growing conditions.
Leaf underside showing prominent veins.
Stems and side branches terminate in panicles of flowering spikes up to 12” long, with smaller spikes up to 5” long.
The purplish-blue tubular corollas have 5 petal-like lobes that are subtended by a green (to reddish) calyx. Corollas are pubescent, mainly toward the tip of the tube. Of course, the corollas include an ovary (4-locular), 5 stamens, and a pistol. Plants bloom from June-October.
After flowering, the calyx encloses a 4-chambered nutlet that was the ovary producing four reddish-brown seeds.
Many species of long and short-tongued bees, wasps, butterflies, skippers, and flies feed on the pollen and nectar and help to pollinate the flowers. Several species of grasshoppers and caterpillars feed on the leaves. Birds also eat the seeds. The leaves have a bitter taste, so they are normally avoided by livestock and deer. Rabbits do eat the leaves of younger plants to some extent.
The Verbena hastata is a neat plant so hopefully, I can find it again to take more photos. You never know where wildflowers will turn up. I will get the descriptions written as soon as I can.
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the family farm and in other areas. The farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street, and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 250 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a few horticulturalists I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at email@example.com. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX (GENUS/SPECIES)
FLORA OF MISSOURI (GENUS/SPECIES)
WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
USDA PLANT FACT SHEET
MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN
MSU-MIDWEST WEEDS AND WILDFLOWERS
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI WEED ID GUIDE
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
PFAF(PLANTS FOR A FUTURE)
LADY BIRD JOHNSON WILDFLOWER CENTER
FRIENDS OF THE WILDFLOWER GARDEN
MARYLAND BIODIVERSITY PROJECT
NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂
More photos of Verbena hastata…
The above photo was taken of the plant I found here on the farm on 9-18-15.
The above photo and the next five were taken on a friend’s farm in Johnson County (Missouri) a few miles north of Windsor on 7-25-19.
The above photo and the next two were taken along a ditch at Farrington Park in Windsor, MO on 8-2-19.