Verbena hastata (Blue Vervain)

Plant Info
Also known as: Swamp Verbena
Family:Verbenaceae (Verbena)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; wet fields, shores, ditches
Bloom season:June - September
Plant height:1 to 6 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] Multiple slender spikes, each 2 to 5 inches long and densely packed, at the top of the plant and arising from the upper leaf axils. Flowers are blue to violet or rarely rose pink, about ¼ inch across with 5 petals fused at the base forming a short tube. Inside the tube are 4 stamens and a short style. The calyx is green to purplish, shorter than the floral tube, about 1/8 inch long, short hairy with 5 lobes. Spikes elongate as the plants mature, with flowers blooming near the tip and fruit forming below.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are narrow, to 7 inches long and about 1 inch wide, lance-oblong with a sharply pointed tip, coarsely toothed edges and a short stalk. The upper surface is rough-textured, the lower finely short-hairy. Stems are square, may be reddish or green, and somewhat hairy.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of fruit] The calyx persists and encapsulates 4 small nutlets.


Blue Vervain may be mistaken for the related Hoary Vervain (Verbena stricta), which has larger flowers, stalkless leaves, and has a preference for dryer habitats.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Elizabeth - Rush Lake Township, Ottertail
on: 2009-07-31 09:49:11

I discovered this plant in my flower bed of daylilies and Asian lilies. This is the first time I believed I have seen it, but I might have pulled it up as a weed before it bloomed. We have an automatic sprinkling system using water from the lake so it gets plenty of water.

Posted by: Walter - Wright County, French Lake Tow
on: 2009-08-04 13:44:09

I just discovered thousands of these Blue Vervain. They apparently liked the border of my pond that was put in. They formed a complete circle around it, and were my favorite flowers. I rarely spotted them, now there are thousands!

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2009-08-04 15:27:40

This is one of my favorite flowers, too. :-)

Posted by: Chris - Minnetonka
on: 2009-09-02 22:48:06

Cool flowers. I found a number of these Sept 1 on Pike Island, Fort Snelling State Park, just a stone's toss from the river shore. I was impressed by these and other flowers blooming there, including Tall Bellflowers, another favorite. They were keeping the bees happy.

Posted by: Randy - Ft. Snelling State Park
on: 2011-07-30 18:13:14

Attractive plant growing with wet feet around the outlet pond of Snelling Lake.

Posted by: Jeff - SW wadena county about 5 miles north of Wadena
on: 2012-08-27 08:39:00

Have not seen this flower on my property previously. We tilled up an area for a deer food plot two years ago. The last two years we had rye planted in it, this year we have sugar beats in it. This past weekend, 8/26/12, we noticed several of these blue vervains growing in the food plot. At first we thought it may be the invasive purple loosestrife (sp?), however, after some research, it appears to be the blue vervain. Very cool as I have been trying to get some wildflowers growing in my grassy field/prairie area.

Posted by: Linda - Merrifield
on: 2013-04-22 11:27:21

I found Blue Vervain growing in the sand beach at our home about 7 miles south of Crosslake, MN. I transplanted one plant to my garden and also scattered seed in the garden. The next year the transplanted one came up and it appears that the seed germinated as I also had several others growing in the garden.

Posted by: Dave - Mille Lacs Co.
on: 2014-07-07 21:44:53

I'm glad I found this. I thought at first it was purple loosetrife. Glad it's not. Thanks

Posted by: Brian - St. Peter
on: 2014-08-03 22:46:29

I saw two plants of this species in bloom at Prairie Creek WMA in Rice County, south of Northfield and just west of Dennison, on August 2. They were growing on a level prairie atop a bluff.

Posted by: T Wilke - Bremen Township
on: 2014-08-09 19:00:54

Have not seen this here on our property in northern Pine County before. It sprouted up (3 plants) next to where I transplanted the monarda in my "experimental" nursery bed. Although it is damp bordering on wet here in the spring, this is where it is high and dry for the most part. Wasn't sure if it was stinging nettle (used for tea) so I left it to bloom. I am keeping it!

Posted by: Rose - Cottonwood County
on: 2015-05-20 18:09:08

Blue Vervain is found in Cottonwood County.

Posted by: Bonnie - Aitkin,Cass, Itasca,Hubbard, and Crow Wing counties
on: 2015-06-23 19:58:48

This flower is a pretty one in my garden to draw the pollinators when it blooms with it's lovely blue candleabra-like flowers July August,September.

Posted by: susan - Duluth
on: 2015-07-07 09:42:04

In far western Duluth at Carlton County along the St. Louis River: suddenly there are many of these blue vervain plants growing in the weedy flood-destroyed lower area of Chambers Grove Park (2012 flood). The whole area, which no longer can be mowed because of the bumpy, dense sandy soil that washed down from the hills, is alive with wild plants - sage, vetch, milkweed, various clovers, another vervain-type plant with purple flowers that does not appear in this list, and dozens of others. Thanks for this website!

Posted by: Renee - southeastern Meeker county
on: 2015-07-09 22:45:50

now blooming in a low peat-ground pasture

Posted by: linda - Hythecker S & N area
on: 2015-08-22 09:28:27

Found this on a guided tour of this area on 8-8-15.

Posted by: Cheryl - Nerstrand
on: 2016-07-10 00:04:03

I live just south of the Big Woods State Park and the prairie there. We've got a peat bog basically and I often take photos of a lone tree there. This little flower stood out to me this week waving in the wind. I was so pleased to find it here and identify it. It's a very nice addition to the tall grasses, thistle and other plants that reside there. I have the best photo opportunities with this tree on the west as the sun sets and the blue vervain made it even better!

Posted by: Joe S - Extreme SW near Rowena
on: 2017-03-16 01:19:34

These volunteered into my garden. I don't consider them a flower and I pull them. Seem to keep showing up and after 10 years or so I just expect to see more. I've got a bunch now in a dense patch of phlox which is irritating me.

Posted by: Sheila M - Golden Valley
on: 2017-07-22 14:57:34

This came up in my yard as a volunteer a few years ago and I loved it. But in recent years the plants are all stunted in growth and the tops of them have curly leaves. They never get taller than about a foot and they don't produce flowers. Any ideas about what could be causing this? Nothing else in the yard seems to be experiencing this problem.

Posted by: Charles H - Northern Mille Lacs Co.
on: 2017-08-08 15:43:28

Found in a small (1/8 acre)clearing which had been logged-off years earlier; mixed in with thistles and other tall weeds. These small unique flowers were seen in early August 2017.

Posted by: jeff zervas - washington county
on: 2019-08-07 14:38:55

Saw some of this growing near me in Mahtomedi and thought it might be purple loosestrife so I came here for ID and happily found that it wasn't PL, and I hope it multiplies. Thanks so much for this site!

Posted by: AMERICA Del Carmen LAREZ RIVAS - White Bear Lake
on: 2019-09-11 09:57:04

It is blooming now in the Birch Lake's border.

Posted by: Deb - St paul
on: 2020-07-29 11:28:19

I had soil brought in last year to build up my garden from the house. This year I noticed this plant that I had not planted. It is a very unique plant. St. Paul Minnesota

Posted by: Jen - Blaine
on: 2020-08-20 10:42:57

Newly constructed neighborhood. I have one beautiful, healthy plant growing along the culvert behind us. Hoping for more in the future!

Posted by: Rebecca Roche - Cottage Grove
on: 2021-06-27 17:05:59

Found in my garden. I don't remember planting it.

Posted by: David - WRENSHALL
on: 2021-07-05 11:49:51

Found along St Louis River in Jay Cooke State Park. Growing in association with Purple Monkey Flower on a gravelly bank prone to flooding.

Posted by: Jodi - Brooklyn Park
on: 2021-07-11 16:03:26

Saw lots of this at Coon Rapids Dam. The river is so low you can walk to the islands and in places you normally cannot walk.

Posted by: Sandy - Waite Park
on: 2021-07-13 13:38:47

Just found these growing where there is a pond next to my yard. The pond is overflow for rain (a swail, I believe). They are just starting to bloom. Maybe a dozen or so plants.

Posted by: Sherman in Duluth - Duluth
on: 2021-07-17 16:11:18

I've seen these plants/flowers for a number of years, in the same spot in Duluth near a culvert on Swan lake Road, close to the Basswood Avenue intersection with Swan Lake Road and Mulberry Street. They're blooming now,(July 17)

Posted by: Shari Emerson - Dakota county, lakeville
on: 2021-08-09 10:44:58

Found near man-made stormwater pond in our neighborhood. This - as well as some great Blue Lobelia nearby-may be the result if a packet of wildflower seeds I scatterred a few years ago. Attracts bumbles & lives among cattails, right above a muskrat burrow. Neighborhood had been in steady development since 2012. Blackbirds & goldfinches hang out around here. & about 20 zillion toads &frogs :)

Posted by: Sara Kroger - Vadnais part of Vadnais and Snail Lake Regional Park,Ram Cty
on: 2022-07-10 12:42:51

Along the woods at the parking lot at the north end of the isthmus trail between the two lakes of Vadnais, the water source for St. Paul. MN.

Posted by: Julie Bicket - Cleveland Mn. Lake Jefferson area, roadside ditches.
on: 2022-07-27 12:48:01

Growing along the farm field side of the road near the lake. May have been more but the ditches had been mown before bloom time.

Posted by: Katy - Todd Cty, Clarissa
on: 2023-08-13 20:10:04

I have this in my pastures, its so pretty! I purchased this home a few years ago and am still learning what is here.

Posted by: Sean - Independence, edge of marsh
on: 2023-08-22 11:19:25

Two small plants, just appeared this year on the edge of a small marsh. So nice to have a native pop up for a change! After years of battling invasives, I tend to greet any pretty new plant with "What fresh (heck) is this, now?"

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