Northern Fog Fruit

Lippia lanceolata (formerly Phyla lanceolata)


Photo of northern fog fruit flowering head
Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan,

Verbenaceae (vervains)


Perennial with low, trailing or ascending stems that can root at the nodes, often forming large colonies. Flowers in small, dense, spherical or cylindrical clusters, becoming more elongated with time, on long stalks arising from upper leaf axils. Individual flowers white or light pink; each with a single bract at its base, the bracts often purplish. The “irregular” (lipped) character of each flower is not immediately apparent in this species. Blooms May–September. Leaves opposite, spaced apart, elliptical to lanceolate, toothed.


Trailing stems grow to about 18 inches in length.

Habitat and conservation

Occurs in mud and gravel margins of streams, sloughs, lakes, ditches, low meadows, and other moist, wet, or muddy areas.

image of Northern Fog Fruit distribution map
Distribution in Missouri


Human connections

Wetlands and their many plants are a primary natural defense against floods. They function like a sponge to hold and then slowly release water, protecting other areas from flood devastation. Since the Great Flood of 1993, land managers have been restoring more wetlands.

Ecosystem connections

Waterfowl eat the seeds. The roots of this and other profuse plants help hold the soil, preventing erosion along the waterways and other wet places where they colonize. Northern fog fruit is the primary food plant of the phaon crescent, one of the brushfooted butterflies.