blue vervain

(Verbena hastata)

Conservation Status
blue vervain
Photo by Kirk Nelson
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACW - Facultative wetland


FACW - Facultative wetland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACW - Facultative wetland


Blue vervain is an erect, perennial forb that rises on one or two stems from an underground horizontal stem (rhizome) and fibrous roots. It is usually 16 to 60 tall, though in favorable conditions it may reach more than 7 in height. It often forms colonies.

The stems are annual, erect, stout, moderately to strongly square, and branched near the top. They are green to reddish and moderately to densely covered with spreading to appressed hairs.

The leaves are opposite, lance-shaped to oblong lance-shaped or narrowly egg-shaped, 1½ to 8 long, and to 1¾ wide. They are about 5 times as long as wide. They are on short, to 1 long leaf stalks (petioles). The petioles are usually winged toward the top. The leaf blades are rounded, angled, or short tapered at the base, and tapered to a sharp point at the tip. They do not clasp the stem at the base. They have a prominent midvein, several lateral veins that arch toward the tip, and a network of smaller veins between the lateral veins. The lateral veins end before reaching the margin. The upper and lower surfaces are green and sometimes rough to the touch. They are sparsely to moderately covered with short, inconspicuous, loosely appressed, non-glandular hairs. The margins are coarsely toothed with sharp, forward pointing teeth. There are often two, sometimes only one, narrow, forward pointing lobes at the base of the larger leaves, and there is often a pair of small leaves rising from the leaf axils.

The inflorescence is a branched group (panicle) of 5 to many spikes at the end of the stem and branches. The spikes are erect or strongly ascending, unbranched, ¾ to 8 long, and noticeable pointed at the tip. They are short and moderately stout when young, greatly elongated and slender at maturity. The flowers are densely crowded and spirally arranged on the spike. They bloom from the bottom up and only one to a few complete rotations of the spiral are in bloom at any one time. Each blooming flower overlaps adjacent blooming flowers.

Each flower is to ¼ in diameter. There are 5 sepals, 5 petals, 4 stamens, and 1 style. The sepals are green, and are united at the base into a narrowly bell-shaped tube (calyx), then separated into 5 short teeth that are unequal in length. The calyx is 1 16to long. The modified leaves (bracts) at the base of each flower are narrowly lance-shaped, sharply pointed, and 1 16to long. They are slightly shorter than the calyx. The petals are purple to purplish-blue, rarely pink or white, and ¼ to long. They are fused at the base into a slender, funnel-shaped tube then separated into 5 spreading lobes. The lobes are ¼ to 3 16 in diameter and blunt to rounded at the tip. The flowers are not fragrant.

Each flower produces a cluster of 4 reddish-brown nutlets that are enclosed in the persistent calyx but are exposed at the tip. Each nutlet is narrowly oblong to narrowly oblong elliptic in outline and 1 32 to 1 16 long. They may be faintly ridged on the bottom and have a few faint cross ridges toward the top.




16 to 60


Flower Color


Purple to purplish-blue


Similar Species


Blue vervain (Verbena hastata) leaves are not lobed near the base.


Moist. Marshes, meadows, fields, swamps, roasdside ditches. Full sun.




July to September


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  


Lamiales (mints, plantains, olives, and allies)  


Verbenaceae (verbena)  
  Tribe Verbeneae  
  Genus Verbena (vervain)  
  Section Verbena  
  Series Candelabrae  

Subordinate Taxa


Some sources, including ITIS, USDA PLANTS, and NatureServe, recognize two varieties: var. hastata, occurring in eastern North America; and var. scabra, with stiffer hairs making the stems and leaves more rough to the touch, occurring in western North America. The ranges of the two varieties overlap broadly in the middle of the continent, and both varieties are found in Minnesota. Steyermark’s Flora of Missouri (Yatskievych, 2006) rejects the separation, stating that the defining characteristics intergrade completely, and some plants in the west have softer hairs. Few other sources recognize the varieties.




Common Names


American blue vervain

blue verbena

blue vervain


swamp verbena

wild hyssop













The upper angle where a branch, stem, leaf stalk, or vein diverges.



The group of outer floral leaves (sepals) below the petals, occasionally forming a tube.



A pyramidal inflorescence with a main stem and branches. Flowers on the lower, longer branches mature earlier than those on the shorter, upper ones.



On plants: The stalk of a leaf blade or a compound leaf that attaches it to the stem. On ants and wasps: The constricted first one or two segments of the rear part of the body.



A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.





Visitor Photos

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Greg Watson


I was riding my bike along the Wagon Wheel Trail in La Crescent this morning and I was able to get these two pictures of a [Broad-headed] Marsh Fly. A first time for me on seeing one. It is on a Blue Vervain, Verbena hastata.

  broad-headed marsh fly  


    blue vervain   blue vervain  


    blue vervain      

Kirk Nelson


Blooming in July on the shore of Snelling Lake

  blue vervain  
    blue vervain   blue vervain  

Done blooming, late September

  blue vervain  


    blue vervain   blue vervain  


    blue vervain      



Verbena hastata BLUE VERVAIN
Frank Mayfield
  Verbena hastata BLUE VERVAIN  



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Minnesota Native Plant - Blue Vervain (Verbena Hastata)

Published on Jul 15, 2013

This video shows the Blue Vervain (Verbena Hastata), a beautiful plant for your native water garden or pond.

  MyNature Apps; Identifying Blue Vervain, Verbena hastata

Uploaded on Aug 5, 2011

How to identify Blue Vervain, Verbena hastata also known as Verbena, Common Verbena, Common Vervain, Eisenkraut, European Vervain, Herb of Grace, Herb of the Cross, Holy wort, Juno's Tears, Pigeon weed, Simpler's Joy, Turkey Grass, Swamp Vervain, Mosquito Plant, and Wild Hyssop




Visitor Sightings

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  Greg Watson

Location: La Crescent, MN

I was riding my bike along the Wagon Wheel Trail in La Crescent this morning and I was able to get these two pictures of a [Broad-headed] Marsh Fly. A first time for me on seeing one. It is on a Blue Vervain, Verbena hastata.

broad-headed marsh fly  

Location: Lake Shore, Cass County

blue vervain  

Location: Lebanon Hills Regional Park (Jensen Lake)

blue vervain  
  Kirk Nelson

Location: Fort Snelling State Park

Done blooming, late September

blue vervain  
  Kirk Nelson

Location: Fort Snelling State Park

Blooming in July on the shore of Snelling Lake

blue vervain  
  Kirk Nelson

Location: Fort Snelling State Park

Blooming in July on the shore of Snelling Lake

blue vervain  

Afton State Park

Antelope Valley SNA

Baker Park Reserve

Beaver Creek Valley State Park

Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park

Blaine Preserve SNA

Blaine Wetland Sanctuary

Blue Mounds State Park

Boot Lake SNA

Buffalo River State Park

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center

Carver Park Reserve

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve

Cedar Rock SNA

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park

Cleary Lake Regional Park

Clifton E. French Regional Park

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crosby Farm Regional Park

Crow Wing State Park

Des Moines River SNA

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Falls Creek SNA

Fort Ridgely State Park

Franconia Bluffs SNA

Glacial Lakes State Park

Glendalough State Park

Glynn Prairie SNA

Greenleaf Lake SRA

Hole-in-the-Mountain Prairie

Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Hythecker Prairie SNA

Iron Springs Bog SNA

Jay Cooke State Park

Joseph A. Tauer Prairie SNA

Lake Alexander Woods SNA, South Unit

Lake Elmo Park Reserve

Lake Maria State Park

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Leif Mountain

Maplewood State Park

Mille Lacs Moraine SNA

Minneopa State Park

Mississippi River County Park

Monson Lake State Park

Mound Spring Prairie SNA, North Unit

Myre-Big Island State Park

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Hoffman Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Pavia Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Rengstorf Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Touch the Sky Prairie Unit

Old Mill State Park

Ordway Prairie

Ottawa Bluffs

Pin Oak Prairie SNA

Pipestone National Monument

Plover Prairie, East Unit

Prairie Coteau SNA

Prairie Creek WMA, Koester Prairie Unit

Quarry Park SNA

Red Rock Prairie

Regal Meadow

Rice Lake Savanna SNA

Rice Lake State Park

River Warren Outcrops SNA

Rock Ridge Prairie SNA

Savage Fen SNA

Schaefer Prairie

Schoolcraft State Park

Seminary Fen SNA

Sheepberry Fen

Shooting Star Prairie SNA

Sibley State Park

Split Rock Creek State Park

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Swedes Forest SNA

Twin Valley Prairie Addition

Twin Valley WMA: North Unit

Verlyn Marth Memorial Prairie SNA

Vermillion Highlands Research Recreation and WMA

Vermillion River WMA

Wahpeton Prairie WMA

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Wild River State Park

Wood-Rill SNA

Woodbury WMA

Yellow Bank Hills SNA







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