bracted vervain

(Verbena bracteata)

Conservation Status
bracted vervain
 
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N3N5 - Vulnerable to Secure

SNA - Not applicable

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
Wetland Indicator Status
     
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland

     
  Midwest

FACU - Facultative upland

     
  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Bracted vervain is a 6 to 18 tall, annual, biennial, or perennial forb that rises on usually several stems from a taproot. It often forms a circular or semi-circular mat.

The stems are 4 to 20 long, slightly to moderately 4-angled, widely branched, and loosely spreading. They may be ascending, strongly ascending, or reclining on the ground with the tips ascending (decumbent). They are rarely erect. They are very leafy and are moderately to densely covered with long, white, spreading, straight or slightly curved hairs.

The leaves are opposite, lance-shaped to egg lance-shaped or inversely lance-shaped, to 2½ long, and to 1 wide. They are stalkless or on short, flat, winged leaf stalks. Lower leaves are usually deeply divided into two narrow lateral lobes and a broad, much larger, terminal lobe. The terminal lobe is often again divided into shallow lobes. The blades are tapered at the base and broadly angled to a blunt tip. They do not clasp the stem. The upper and lower surfaces are moderately to densely covered with white, loosely ascending hairs. The margins are doubly toothed with large, blunt teeth and smaller, sharper teeth. The leaves become smaller and less divided as they ascend the stem.

The inflorescence is a solitary spike at the end of the stem and branches. The spikes are ¾ to 6 long, to wide, relatively stout, and densely crowded. As the spike elongates through the long blooming season new flowers surround just the growing tip of the spike. The flowers appear singly in the axils of modified leaves (bracts). The bracts are narrowly lance-shaped to narrowly elliptic, coarsely hairy, and 5 16 to long. As the spike elongates the bracts become larger, more toothed or lobed, and more leaf-like.

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 very short teeth that are unequal in length. The calyx is about ⅛″ long. The bracts are 2 to 4 times longer than the calyx. The petals are light purplish-blue or light purple, and to ¼ long. They are fused at the base into a slender, funnel-shaped tube then separated into 5 spreading lobes. The lobes are 1 16 to in diameter and rounded at the tip.

Each flower produces a cluster of 4 nutlets that are enclosed in the persistent calyx but are exposed at the tip. Each nutlet is oblong to narrowly oblong in outline and 1 16 to long. They are finely ridged on the bottom and have a network of raised ridges above the middle.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

6 to 18

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

Light purplish-blue or light purple

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Dry. Prairies, fields, roadsides, sidewalks, and other disturbed sites. Full sun. Sandy, gravelly, or rocky soil.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

May to October

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

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

 
  4/17/2021      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common and widespread

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  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 (dicots)  
  Superorder Asteranae  
 

Order

Lamiales (mints, plantains, olives, and allies)  
 

Family

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

Synonyms

 
 

Verbena imbricata

Verbena bracteosa

Verbena prostrata

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

big-bract vervain

bigbract verbena

bracted vervain

carpet vervain

creeping verbena

prostrate verbena

prostrate vervain

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Axil

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

 

Bract

Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.

 

Calyx

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

 

Clasping

Describing a leaf that wholly or partly surrounds the stem but does not fuse at the base.

 

Decumbent

Reclining on the ground but with the tips ascending.

 

Sepal

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

       
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