Verbena urticifolia (White Vervain)
|Also known as:||Nettle-leaf Vervain|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; thickets, edges of woods|
|Bloom season:||July - September|
|Plant height:||3 to 5 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FAC MW: FAC NCNE: FAC|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are in numerous slender spikes that arise from the leaf axils near the top of the plant, and branch at the top of the stem. Individual flowers are white, not more than 1/8 inch across, with 5 petals fused at the base into a short tube. The petal lobes are somewhat unequal, the 2 upper slightly smaller than the lower 3; the lower lobe is notched at the tip. The calyx is nearly as long as the floral tube, has 5 pointed lobes, and is hairy. The spikes elongate as the plant matures, with flowers densely packed near the tip and a few flowers open near the tip. Fruits form below the flowers and become more widely spaced as the spike elongates.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are up to 6 inches long and 2½ inches wide, coarsely toothed, softly hairy, oval to egg-shaped with a rounded or abruptly tapering base, sharply pointed tip and a stalk up to 2 inches long. Attachment is opposite, There are sometimes small leaflets at the leaf axils. Stems are square, hairy and may be branched in the upper plant.
When White Vervain is in full bloom, it can have dozens of spikes flying out in all directions. While typical plants are 4 feet tall or less, a robust specimen can reach heights of 6 feet.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Hennepin counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?