Verbena stricta (Hoary Vervain)

Plant Info
Also known as: Hoary Verbena
Family:Verbenaceae (Verbena)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; dry; fields, prairies, roadsides
Bloom season:June - September
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
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 Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] Densely packed spike clusters of ½-inch purple to blue-violet flowers, sometimes rose pink or white. Flowers have 5 petals fused at the base forming a short tube. The petal lobes are slightly unequal in size, the 2 lateral lobes largest and the lower lobe notched at the tip. Hidden inside the tube are 4 stamens and a short style. The spike elongates as the plant matures with flowers blooming from the bottom up and fruit forming below.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are opposite, nearly erect to spreading, 2 to 3 inches long, oval to egg-shaped, pointed at the tip, coarsely toothed, covered with dense hairs, and stalkless. Stems are square, short-hairy, and may be a reddish color.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

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


Hoary Vervain tends to grow in clumps. It might be confused with Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata), which has smaller flowers, stalked leaves that are longer and proportionately much narrower, and prefers moist habitats.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Wild River State Park, Chisago County, and 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: Juli - Danube, Renville County
on: 2012-06-23 11:48:35

along side of roads

Posted by: somebody - inver grove hts. Dakota County
on: 2012-07-28 11:52:42

Very common pasture weed!

Posted by: Sheila - Lakeville
on: 2013-06-29 21:27:35

I raise it in my prairie in my backyard. I moved it with me when I moved up here from the farm 11 years ago. It really took over when I first moved and I called Prairie Moon (my original source) to find out why. Turns out my prairie wasn't dense enough to keep it from becoming "invasive". I spent the next summer pulling as much of it up as I could. Filled in the prairie with other natives and now it's fairly tame. Of course, if I find it in places where I don't want it I still just yank it. It's not like it's going to disappear. It looks really nice with native yarrow (Achillea), Swamp Milkweed (Asclepsis incarnata) and Cone Flower (Echinacea).

Posted by: Jason - Blue Earth and Nicollet Counties
on: 2013-07-28 22:33:12

Roadsides, clearings, and short-grass prairies.

Posted by: Susan - Alexandria
on: 2014-07-13 15:11:24

Roadside ditch. Not abundant here.

Posted by: Bonnie - Cass County near Pine River
on: 2014-08-08 07:52:17

Grows well in the gravelly soils of our prairie.

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