Spikes of Purple


Sumner, United States

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Blue Vervain at Red Cedar Park in northeast Iowa. USA

Blue Vervain
Verbena hastata
Vervain family (Verbenaceae)

Description: This is a slender, but erect, herbaceous perennial plant that is up to 5’ tall. It branches occasionally along the upper half of its length. The green to reddish stems are four-angled, often with white appressed hairs. The opposite leaves are up to 6" long and 1" across. They are lanceolate, conspicuously veined, and their petioles are short. Leaf margins are coarsely serrated. The upper stems terminate in panicles of flowering spikes up to 1’ long and about one-half as much across. Individual floral spikes are up to 5" long, and densely crowded all around with numerous blue-violet flowers. Individual flowers are up to ¼" long and similarly across. Each flower has a blue-violet corolla with 5 spreading lobes, a short-tubular calyx with 5 narrow teeth, 4 inserted stamens, and a pistil. The calyx is grayish green to dark red and about one-half as long as the corolla. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late summer, lasting about 1–1½ months. There is no noticeable floral scent. Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by small nutlets (4 nutlets per flower). These nutlets are up to 2 mm. long, reddish brown, and oblongoid in shape. The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous. Small clonal colonies of plants are often produced from the rhizomes.

Cultivation: The preference is full to partial sunlight, moist conditions, and soil consisting of fertile loam or wet muck. This plant tolerates standing water if it is temporary. This is a good plant to locate near a small river or pond in a sunny location.

Range & Habitat: Habitats include riverbottom prairies, moist meadows in floodplain woodlands, soggy thickets, borders of rivers and ponds, marshes, ditches, fence rows, and pastures. This plant adapts readily to degraded wetlands and other disturbed areas, but it can be found in higher quality habitats as well.

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blue vervain wildflowers flowers

Artwork Comments

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