Hoary Vervain, Hoary Verbena, Tall Vervain, Woolly Verbena
Synonyms of Verbena stricta (7) (Updated on 1-17-23 from Plants of the World Online): Verbena alopecurus Cav., Verbena cuneifolia Raf., Verbena mollis Raf., Verbena rigens Michx., Verbena scoparia Tausch, Verbena stricta f. albiflora Wadmond, Verbena stricta f. roseiflora Benke
Verbena stricta Vent. is the accepted scientific name for this species of Verbena. It was named and described as such by Étienne Pierre Ventenat in Description des Plantes Nouvelles in 1800.
The genus, Verbena L., was 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 stricta is from Plants of the World Online. Areas in green show where the species is native and purple where it has been introduced. The map on the USDA Plants Database for the United States and Canada is similar.
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 found a small colony of Verbena stricta growing in the pasture on a friend’s farm where I was working on July 16 in 2016. I identified several species on his farm that aren’t growing on mine.
Verbena stricta is a native perennial wildflower that can be found throughout most of the United States and the eastern part of Canada. The species is very similar to its cousin Verbena hastata.
They grow the best in full sun in dry to damp conditions and prefer poorer soil. They grow well in rich loamy soil, but sometimes have difficulty competing with other plants. They can be found in pastures (especially overgrazed pastures with short grass), prairies, along streambanks and pond margins, open disturbed areas, and so on.
Verbena stricta can grow to over 3’ tall from a taproot which may send up multiple stems and/or branch out at the top of the main stem. The plants I have found have had only one stem. The stems are square, green to reddish-purple, and fairly hairy. Plants normally branch out toward the top of the stem. This can vary somewhat in pastures as cattle can snip off the stems when plants are young. Experienced cattle (and deer) are not fond of Verbena species because they have a bitter taste
The leaves grow in an opposite manner along the stems and can have short petioles (leaf stems) or may be sessile (no petioles). The dark green leaves grow up to around 4” long and 2” wide, are said to be ovate, obovate, elliptic to roundish, and end with a sharply pointed tip. The margins have coarse teeth, sometimes doubled. The upper and lower surfaces are densely pubescent with a combination of long and short appressed hairs and have a rough texture.
At the top of each branch is single to a group of floral spikes that grow from about 2 to 8” long. The spikes are densely covered with flowers that can be light to medium blueish-purple, pinkish, or even white in color. The flowers of the plant I photographed were kind of pink with a bluish tint. The photos looked slightly different than in person likely because of the bright sunlight.
The funnel-shaped corollas are 1/8-12/4” wide, hairy (pubescent) inside and out, are 5-lobed and are subtended by a calyx with narrow teeth, also pubescent. There are 4 stamens of unequal length that are joined at the top, yellow anthers, a green style, and a green ovary. Flowers are produced from June through October.
The flowers are replaced by an oblong 4-chambered capsule that contains 4 brown oblong nutlets.
Several types of bees, butterflies, flies, and wasps visit the flowers to collect pollen and nectar which also help with pollination. Grasshoppers and caterpillars eat the leaves, and various bird species eat the seeds over the winter.
I haven’t observed this species since 2019, but hopefully, I will run across it again. I definitely need more photos!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN
MSU-MIDWEST WEEDS AND WILDFLOWERS
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON-BURKE HERBARIUM
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
PFAF(PLANTS FOR A FUTURE)
LADY BIRD JOHNSON WILDFLOWER CENTER
FRIENDS OF THE WILDFLOWER GARDEN
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. 🙂