Verbena urticifolia (White Vervain)

Plant Info
Also known as: Nettle-leaf Vervain
Family:Verbenaceae (Verbena)
Life cycle:perennial
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):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

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

[photo of flowers] 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: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] 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.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

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


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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More photos

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?

Posted by: Mark - Oakdale Nature Preserve
on: 2011-07-13 21:20:10

Found blooming July 13th 2011 on the south edge of the big meadow SSW of the Oakdale Discovery Center.

Posted by: Nancy - Lakeland, MN
on: 2011-08-29 23:26:56

I've had a large spray of this growing in my front flowerbed for a couple years. I was not sure what it is, but this site helped me figure it out. It is unusual, but is taking over the area. Definately blooms in August. I can send photos if you want.

Posted by: Alison - Rochester
on: 2012-08-19 11:15:14

Thanks for helping me to find out what was in my flower bed. I will leave it there.

Posted by: Ann Rantanen-Lee - Blaine, MN Anoka County
on: 2015-01-16 15:01:58

This showed up summer of 2014 in my flower bed. I collaborated with other Anoka County Master Gardeners to identify it.

Posted by: Chris - Blue Earth county
on: 2017-05-11 23:42:58

This grows in an untamed area of our lot. I love seeing it. Has anyone else observed it with what looks like a fungus... ?grayish white powdered leaves.

Posted by: Brian - Pine City
on: 2017-07-20 20:14:18

Found blooming on 18 July near Cross Lake in Chengwatana Township, Pine County.

Posted by: Tim Johnson - Coon Rapids Dam, Hennepin County
on: 2018-07-05 10:30:51

Near thickets in partial shade along the walking path.

Posted by: Douglas Owens-Pike - City of Champlin, W side of 169, front entrance to city hall
on: 2018-08-17 11:07:54

we found it while weeding rain garden in front of Champlin City Hall last week. It is on the W side near N end. Just a few feet in from parking lot. Just past bare mulch.

Posted by: Kristy Zajac - Redwood Falls Township, Redwood County, MN
on: 2019-07-22 14:18:37

This was found in the old CRP ground.

Posted by: Jean Jagodzinski - North St Paul
on: 2019-07-27 13:04:08

Foundin an untamed area of our lot.

Posted by: Cory Wendt - Mankato, Blue Earth County
on: 2022-04-11 20:38:01

Had one volunteer in my urban backyard last year! Thought it was a "weed" u til realizing what it was. Birds must have brought it in because I'm in the middle of town.

Posted by: Andy - Minneapolis
on: 2023-07-18 18:14:44

To answer Chris' question, yes, that white stuff is on the leaves of the white vervain in my yard as well. Pretty sure it's powdery mildew--which evidently likes Verbena. Many insects, especially a smaller type of bee, also like this plant--its many tiny white flowers.

Posted by: Heidi Kass - Rochester
on: 2023-08-05 09:23:07

Just IDed this in my yard on a part-shade hillside near the woods. In the spring, when I first spotted it, I thought it might be nettles. And now I see its other common name is Nettle-leaf Vervain!

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