South Dakota Native Plant Research
Verbenaceae : Verbena stricta

Verbenaceae : Verbena stricta


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Family Name


Common Name

Hoary vervain

Native American Name

Lakota: tȟopȟéstola


Verbena hastata is a short-lived, perennial herb with erect stems, usually branched above, with a dense covering of hairs, growing 20-120 cm in height. The simple, opposite, erect to spreading, ovate to orbicular leaves are 3-7 cm long, sessile or nearly so, toothed, broadly pointed at the tip. The lower leaf surface is densely covered in hairs with prominent veins, the upper is hairy and wrinkled. The inflorescence consists of 1-several stiff, terminal, many-flowered spikes on each branch. The flowers are subtended by small bracts about the size of the calyx. The calyx is 4-5 mm long, tubular and 5-toothed, and densely covered with hairs. The blue to purple, rarely white, hairy corolla tube is about slightly longer than the calyx, with 5 reflexed lobes that create a disk 8-9 mm across. The petal lobes are slightly unequal in size, the 2 lateral lobes largest and the lower lobe notched at the tip. The fruit are 4 nutlets, 2.5-3 mm long, enclosed in the persistent calyx. Hoary vervain blooms from May to September in pastures, prairies, along roadsides and in wastelands throughout South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Hoary vervain provides an attractive addition to a native plant garden. The numerous spikes and small blue flowers can be eye-catching. The flowers open from bottom to top providing food for a host of native bee species and the seeds are a staple for many small mammals and birds. The plant hosts the Common Buckeye butterfly larva. It is short-lived and not an especially aggressive species and will readily reseed itself. It tends to do best without competition and does not survive well in prairie plantings with native grasses.

Horticulture Notes

Seed collection: Collect fruit after it turns brown. The nutlets separate when mature and thoroughly dry.

Germination: The seeds need a 60-day cold moist treatment for spring planting or fall sowing.

Vegetative propagation: Young stems cut in the spring can be rooted in moist sand.

Light: Full sun.

Soil: Loamy to sandy well drained..

Water: Mesic to dry. Drought tolerant

Verbenaceae : Verbena stricta