Narrow-Leaved Vervain

Verbena simplex

narrow-leaved_vervain_9-23-14.jpg

Photo of narrow-leaved vervain plants in bloom.
Narrow-leaved vervain is a short, slender perennial with single stems or with upper stems sparingly branched.
Family

Verbenaceae (vervains)

Description

Short, slender perennial with single stems or with upper stems sparingly branched. Stems 4-angled. Flowers on single spikes with many small, deep lavender or purple flowers. Blooms May-September. Leaves opposite, narrow, oblong, sessile or nearly so, coarsely toothed (other Missouri Verbena species have broader leaves).

Similar species: There are 7 Verbena species in Missouri, 5 with a wide distribution. This species is separated from the others by its narrowly lance-shaped, stalkless leaves, tall, thin flower spikes, and upright habit.

Size

Height: to about 1½ feet.

narrow-leaved_vervain_plants_9-23-14.jpg

Photo of narrow-leaved vervain plants in bloom, showing leaves and stems.
Narrow-Leaved Vervain
Narrow-leaved vervain occurs in glades, prairies, fields, rights-of-way, and other open, dry, or disturbed habitats.
Habitat and conservation

Occurs in glades, prairies, pastures and fields, waste places, rights-of-way, and other open, dry, or disturbed habitats.

image of Narrow-Leaved Vervain distribution map
Distribution in Missouri

Statewide except northeastern corner.

Human connections

Worldwide, various species of vervains have historically been used medicinally. Some species are cultivated in native wildflower gardens, partly for their showy flowers and partly for their attractiveness to butterflies.

Ecosystem connections

Several types of bees, butterflies, and other insects visit the flowers. Verbenas are larval host plants for at least one moth species. Narrow-leaved verbena has been declared endangered in some New England states, which are trying to keep it from disappearing from within their borders.