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
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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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.

Posted by: Becky - Spicer
on: 2016-07-13 16:18:14

road side and in my garden

Posted by: dallas - hubbard county about 2 miles east of akeley
on: 2016-08-04 09:33:10

just showed up in my old field

Posted by: Davis - Watonwan County- Butterfield Township
on: 2016-11-29 15:12:10

Found a patch of 8 plants in a reed canary field, seems to be doing well. Looking at restoring the area to prairie. Will have to collect seed next year.

Posted by: Jane N - Ramsey county, Roseville
on: 2017-12-21 08:54:03

Growing in the expansion crack space where concrete divisions separate sidewalks for the corner of 2 county roads. Amazing healthy solo plant.

Posted by: Peggy Chevalier - Centra Care Health Plaza St Cloud MN
on: 2019-05-22 13:34:24

I have photographed this lovely wildflower for many years. Grows in abundance in the recovered wildflower prairies here in the St Cloud area.

Posted by: Ida Dawson
on: 2020-11-11 06:01:09

Is there any medicinal value to the hoary Vervain?

Posted by: Dan Kilbury - Anoka County
on: 2021-07-27 11:59:37

Found several bunches of it in my backyard. I have been restoring an area in my yard, that was an in ground pool, to native pollinator habitat. With this being such a drought year, it was interesting to see this plant surviving ok. So some of them will be moved into the garden. Normally they would be mowed down. But since mowing is also scarce this year, we get to see what's around.

Posted by: Shannen Louwagie - Northeast Lyon County
on: 2021-08-25 11:54:04

Has appeared on our land three times since we moved here (twenty five years ago) always in drought years and always in disturbed soil. The dryer it is, the more appear. Often in the same general area as wild ground cherries, sometimes near goldenrod.

Posted by: John Michael Zumbrunnen - Anoka county
on: 2023-07-06 07:15:00

This is growing on my employers property along with bouncing bet milkweed mullein riverbank grape black raspberry evening primrose etc

Posted by: Anne - Saint Paul
on: 2023-10-19 20:23:33

I believe several seedlings have volunteered in dry shade in my yard. Does anyone know if it is likely to persist in full/dappled shade? And, if it does, whether it it likely to bloom?

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-10-20 10:27:35

Anne, it is unlikely to thrive in shade.

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