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This article is about the plant of genus Verbena. For other plants called "verbenas", see For other meanings, see Verbena (disambiguation).
"Vervain" redirects here. For other uses, see Vervain (disambiguation).
Purpletop Vervain, Verbena bonariensis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Angiosperms
Order: Lamiales
Family: Verbenaceae
Genus: Verbena

See text

Verbena (pronounced /vərˈbiːnə/)[1] (verbenas or vervains) is a genus in the family Verbenaceae. It contains about 250 species of annual and perennial herbaceous or semi-woody flowering plants. The majority of the species are native to the New World from Canada south to southern Chile, but some are also native in the Old World, mainly in Europe. These include Common Vervain (V. officinalis) and V. supina.

The leaves are usually opposite, simple, and in many species hairy, often densely so. The flowers are small, with five petals, and borne in dense spikes. Typically some shade of blue, they may also be white, pink, or purple, especially in cultivars.

The genus can be divided into a diploid North American and a polyploid South American lineage, both with a base chromosome number of 7. The European species derived from the North American lineage. It seems that Verbena as well as the related mock vervains (Glandularia) evolved from the assemblage provisionally treated under the genus name Junellia; both other genera were usually included in the Verbenaceae until the 1990s[2]. Intergeneric chloroplast gene transfer by an undetermined mechanism – though probably not hybridization – has occurred at least twice from vervains to Glandularia, between the ancestors of the present-day South American lineages and once more recently, between V. orcuttiana or Swamp Verbena (V. hastata) and G. bipinnatifida. In addition, several species of Verbena are of natural hybrid origin; the well-known Garden Vervain has an entirely muddy history. The relationships of this close-knit group are therefore hard to resolve with standard methods of computational phylogenetics.[3]


Ecology and human uses

Purpletop Vervain (V. bonariensis) as an ornamental plant

Some species, hybrids and cultivars of vervain are used as ornamental plants. They are valued in butterfly gardening in suitable climates, attracting Lepidoptera such as the Hummingbird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum), Chocolate Albatross (Appias lyncida), or the Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor), and also hummingbirds, especially Common Vervain (V. officinalis), which is also grown as a honey plant.

For some vervain pathogens, see List of verbena diseases. Cultivated vervains are sometimes parasitized by Sweet potato whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) and spread this pest to other crops.

Vervain has longstanding use in herbalism and folk medicine, usually as a herbal tea. Nicholas Culpeper's 1652 The English Physitian discusses folk uses. Among others effects, it may act as a galactagogue and possibly sex steroid analogue. It is one of the original 38 Bach flower remedies, prescribed against "over-enthusiasm". The plants are also sometimes used as abortifacient.

Compounds that have been identified in vervains include β-myrcene, verbenone, caffeic acid (and derivatives) and indeterminate glycosides.

The essential oil of various species - mainly Common Vervain - is traded as Spanish Verbena oil. Considered inferior to oil of Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citrodora) in perfumery, it is of some commercial importance for herbalism and it seems to be a promising source of medical compounds. Verveine, the famous green liqueur from the region of Le Puy-en-Velay (France) is flavored with vervains.


Vervains in human culture

See also Verbena (disambiguation)
Common Vervain (V. officinalis) from Deutschlands Flora in Abbildungen by Johann Georg Sturm and Jacob Sturm, 1796

Verbena has long been associated with divine and other supernatural forces. It was called "tears of Isis" in Ancient Egypt, and later on "Juno's tears". In Ancient Greece, it was dedicated to Eos Erigineia. In the early Christian era, folk legend stated that Common Vervain (V. officinalis) was used to staunch Jesus' wounds after his removal from the cross. It was consequently called "Holy Herb" or (e.g. in Wales) "Devil's bane".

Other legends held it that vervain protects people from vampires, by mixing it in a herbal tea, keeping it near you, or using oil extracted from it in a bath. Vervain flowers are engraved on cimaruta, Italian anti-stregheria charms. In the 1870 The History and Practice of Magic by "Paul Christian" (Jean Baptiste Pitois) it is employed in the preparation of a mandragora charm.

While Common Vervain is not native to North America, it has been introduced there and for example the Pawnee have adopted it as an entheogen enhancer and in oneiromancy, much like Calea zacatechichi is used in Mexico.

The generic name is the Ancient Roman term for sacrificial herbs considered very powerful. Pliny the Elder describes verbena presented on Jupiter altars; it is not entirely clear if this referred to a Verbena rather than the general term for prime sacrificial herbs.

The common names of Common Vervain in many Central and Eastern Europes languages often associate it with iron. These include for example the Dutch IJzerhard ("iron-hardener"), Danish Læge-Jernurt ("medical ironwort"), German Echtes Eisenkraut ("true ironherb"), Slovak Železník lekársky ("medical ironherb"), and Hungarian vasfű ("iron grass").

In hanakotoba (花言葉, Japanese flower-language), vervains are called bijozakura (美女桜[4]) and are a symbol of cooperativeness. In Western culture, they are the birthday flower of July 29.

An indeterminate vervain is among the plants on the eighth panel of the New World Tapestry ("Expedition to Cape Cod"), embroidered in 1602/03.

According to the William Faulkner short story "An Odor of Verbena", vervain is the only scent that can be smelled above the scent of horses and courage.

Selected species[5]

Large-bracted Vervain (V. bracteata)
Verbena rigida
Verbena speciosa
Hoary Vervain (V. stricta)
See also Aloysia, Glandularia and Junellia for species formerly placed here.
  • Verbena alata Cham.
  • Verbena andalgalensis Moldenke
  • Verbena atacamensis Reiche
  • Verbena australis Moldenke
  • Verbena balansae Briq.
  • Verbena bangiana Moldenke
  • Verbena berterii (Meisn.) Schauer
    • Verbena berterii f. albiflora Moldenke
    • Verbena berterii f. berterii
  • Verbena bonariensis L.Purpletop Vervain, Clustertop Vervain, Tall Verbena, Pretty Verbena, "South American vervain", "purpletop"
  • Verbena bracteata Lag. & Rodr. – Large-bracted Vervain
  • Verbena brasiliensisBrazilian Verbena, Brazilian Vervain
  • Verbena californicaCalifornia Vervain, Red Hills Vervain
  • Verbena canescens Kunth
  • Verbena caniuensis Moldenke
  • Verbena carnea Medik.
  • Verbena carolina L.
  • Verbena carollata Briq.
  • Verbena catamarcensis Moldenke
  • Verbena chacensis Moldenke
  • Verbena clavata Ruiz & Pav.
  • Verbena cloverae Moldenke
  • Verbena cochabambensis Moldenke
  • Verbena concepcionis Moldenke
  • Verbena cumingii Moldenke
  • Verbena cuneifolia Ruiz & Pav.
  • Verbena × deamii
  • Verbena delicatula Mart. & Zucc.
  • Verbena demissa
  • Verbena ehrenbergiana Schauer
  • Verbena × engelmannii
  • Verbena ephedroides Cham.
    • Verbena ephedroides var. entreriensis Tronc.
    • Verbena ephedroides var. ephedroides
  • Verbena fasciculata Benth.
  • Verbena ferreyrae Moldenke
  • Verbena filicaulis Schauer
  • Verbena gentryi Moldenke
  • Verbena glabrata Kunth
  • Verbena glutinosa Kuntze
  • Verbena goyazensis Moldenke
  • Verbena gracilescens (Cham.) Herter
  • Verbena gracilis Desf.
  • Verbena grisea B.L.Rob. & Greenm.
  • Verbena halei – Texas Vervain Small Munir (sometimes included in V. officinalis)
  • Verbena hastataSwamp Verbena, Blue Vervain
  • Verbena hayekii Moldenke
  • Verbena hintonii Moldenke
  • Verbena hirta Spreng.
  • Verbena hispida Ruiz & Pav.
  • Verbena imbricata Wooton & Standl.
  • Verbena inamoena Briq.
  • Verbena intermedia Gillies & Hook.
    • Verbena intermedia f. albiflora Moldenke
    • Verbena intermedia f. intermedia
    • Verbena intermedia var. intermedia
    • Verbena intermedia var. lanuginosa Moldenke
  • Verbena johnstonii (Moldenke) G. L. Nesom
  • Verbena kuhlmannii Moldenke
  • Verbena landbeckii Phil.
  • Verbena lasiostachys Link
  • Verbena lindbergi Moldenke
  • Verbena lindmanii Briq.
  • Verbena litoralis Kunth
  • Verbena lobata Vell.
  • Verbena longifolia M.Martens & Galeotti
  • Verbena lucanensis Moldenke
  • Verbena macdougalii A.Heller
  • Verbena macrodonta L.M.Perry
  • Verbena malmii Moldenke
  • Verbena menthifolia Benth.
  • Verbena minutiflora Briq.
  • Verbena montevidensis Spreng.
  • Verbena monticola Moldenke
  • Verbena multiglandulosa Moldenke
  • Verbena neomexicana (A.Gray) Small
    • Verbena neomexicana var. hirtella L.M.Perry</small>
    • Verbena neomexicana var. neomexicana
    • Verbena neomexicana var. xylopoda L.M.Perry
  • Verbena nivea Moldenke
  • Verbena occulta Moldenke
  • Verbena officinalisCommon Vervain, Simpler's Joy, Holy Herb, "mosquito plant", "wild hyssop"
  • Verbena orcuttiana L.M.Perry
  • Verbena ovata Cham.
  • Verbena paraguariensis Moldenke
  • Verbena paranensis Moldenke
  • Verbena parvula Hayek
  • Verbena paulensis Moldenke
  • Verbena paulsenii Phil.
  • Verbena pedicellata Moldenke
  • Verbena perennis Wooton
  • Verbena × perriana
  • Verbena pinetorum Moldenke
  • Verbena plicata Greene
  • Verbena polycephala Turcz.
  • Verbena porrigens Phil.
  • Verbena pseudojuncea Gay
  • Verbena ramboi Moldenke
  • Verbena ramulosa Phil.
  • Verbena recta Kunth
  • Verbena rectiloba Moldenke
  • Verbena regnelliana Moldenke
  • Verbena reineckii Moldenke
  • Verbena reitzii Moldenke
  • Verbena ribifolia Walp.
  • Verbena rigida Spreng.
    • Verbena rigida var. obovata (Hayek) Moldenke
    • Verbena rigida var. rigida
  • Verbena riparia Raf. ex Small & A. Heller
  • Verbena robusta Greene
  • Verbena runyonii Moldenke
  • Verbena russellii Moldenke
  • Verbena × rydbergii
  • Verbena scabra Vahl
  • Verbena scabrella Sessé & Moc.
  • Verbena sedula Moldenke
  • Verbena simplex Lehm. – Narrow-leaved Vervain
  • Verbena spartioides Turcz.
  • Verbena speciosa
  • Verbena sphaerocarpa L.M.Perry
  • Verbena storeoclada Briq.
  • Verbena stricta Vent. – Hoary Vervain
  • Verbena strigosa Cham.
  • Verbena subuligera Greene
  • Verbena supina L.
  • Verbena swiftiana Moldenke
  • Verbena tecticaulis Tronc.
  • Verbena tessmannii Moldenke
  • Verbena teucroides
  • Verbena thymoides Cham.
  • Verbena tomophylla Briq.
  • Verbena townsendii Svenson
  • Verbena trachea Phil.
  • Verbena trifida Kunth
  • Verbena triphylla L.
  • Verbena triternata Phil.
  • Verbena urticifoliaWhite Vervain
  • Verbena valerianoides Kunth
  • Verbena variabilis Moldenke
  • Verbena villifolia Hayek
  • Verbena weberbaueri Hayek
  • Verbena xutha Lehm.

See also

Lemon Verbena, Aloysia citrodora (formerly in Lippia), a close relative of true Verbenas


  1. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  2. ^ Botta et al. (1995)
  3. ^ Yuan & Olmstead (2008)
  4. ^ "Pretty-lady cherryblossom". The usual contemporary Japanese name of vervains is bābena (バーベナ), a transliteration of "verbena".
  5. ^ USDA (2004)
  6. ^ Lippia citrodora is an obsolete name still often seen.


  • Botta, S.M.: Martinez, S. & Mulguta de Romero, M.E. (1995): Novedades nomenclaturales en Verbenaceae ["Nomenclatural revisions in Verbenaceae"]. Hickenia 2: 127-128.
  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) (2004): Germplasm Resources Information Network - Verbena. Version of 2004-JAN-29. Retrieved 2008-AUG-07.
  • Yuan, Yao-Wu & Olmstead, Richard G. (2008): A species-level phylogenetic study of the Verbena complex (Verbenaceae) indicates two independent intergeneric chloroplast transfers. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 48(1): 23-33. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2008.04.004 (HTML abstract)

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Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Euasterids I
Ordo: Lamiales
Familia: Verbenaceae
Genus: Verbena
Species: V. alata - V. andalgalensis - V. atacamensis - V. australis - V. balansae - V. bangiana - V. berterii - V. bonariensis - V. bracteata - V. brasiliensis - V. californica - V. campestris - V. canescens - V. caniuensis - V. carnea - V. carolina - V. carollata - V. catamarcensis - V. catharinae - V. chacensis - V. clavata - V. cloverae - V. cochabambensis - V. concepcionis - V. corymbosa - V. cumingii - V. cuneifolia - V. delicatula - V. demissa - V. dusenii - V. ehrenbergiana - V. ephedroides - V. fasciculata - V. ferreyrae - V. filicaulis - V. gentryi - V. glabrata - V. glutinosa - V. goyazensis - V. gracilescens - V. gracilis - V. grisea - V. gynobasis - V. hastata - V. hatschbachi - V. hayekii - V. hintonii - V. hirta - V. hispida - V. imbricata - V. inamoena - V. intermedia - V. johnstonii - V. jordanensis - V. kuhlmannii - V. landbeckii - V. lasiostachys - V. lindbergi - V. lindmanii - V. litoralis - V. lobata - V. longifolia - V. lucanensis - V. macdougalii - V. macrodonta - V. malmii - V. menthifolia - V. minutiflora - V. montevidensis - V. monticola - V. multiglandulosa - V. neo-mexicana - V. nivea - V. occulta - V. officinalis - V. orcuttiana - V. ovata - V. paraguariensis - V. paranensis - V. parvula - V. paulensis - V. paulsenii - V. pedicellata - V. perennis - V. pinetorum - V. plicata - V. polycephala - V. porrigens - V. pseudojuncea - V. ramboi - V. ramulosa - V. recta - V. rectiloba - V. regnelliana - V. reineckii - V. reitzii - V. ribifolia - V. rigida - V. riparia - V. robusta - V. runyonii - V. russellii - V. scabra - V. scabrella - V. sedula - V. simplex - V. spartioides - V. sphaerocarpa - V. storeoclada - V. stricta - V. strigosa - V. subuligera - V. supina - V. swiftiana - V. tecticaulis - V. tessmannii - V. thymoides - V. tomophylla - V. townsendii - V. trachea - V. trifida - V. triternata - V. urticifolia - V. valerianoides - V. variabilis - V. villifolia - V. weberbaueri - V. xutha


Verbena L.

Vernacular names

Nederlands: Ijzerhard
Русский: Вербена


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