Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council Plants Resource Page

Plant of the Month - Common Vervain

Hedge Nettle

Common Vervain

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Plant Description

Common Name(s):Common Vervain
Scientific Name:Verbena lasiostachys
Plant Type:Perennial
Size:up to 3 feet high and as wide or wide
Habitat:open areas, dry or moist
Blooms:December to August

Common Vervain is a sprawling, much-branched plant with purple-to-blue flower spikes punctuating the ends of upright-curving stems. While native to our mountains, its sprawling nature and ubiquity often conveys a weed-like impression. It blooms from April to September, seemingly less averse to the dry and hot summers than most other flowering plants in the area.

Popular with butterflies and other insects, the cylindrical purple flower spikes are 3 to 10 inches long and less than a half-inch in diameter. These inflorescences are aggregations of tiny individual 5-petaled, 2-lipped flowers, often clustered a short way down from the tops of the spikes. The fruit is described as 4 nutlets. Leaves are opposite or whorled along stems, up to 4 inches long and oblong-ovate with coarsely sawtoothed and/or lobed edges. Slender, wiry stems support the nodding flowers. The plant is hairy througout.

The genus name Verbena is an ancient Latin name which is said to mean holy plant (from herba bona or "the good herb"). The species name lasiostachys means "having woolly flower spikes".

Contributed by Liz Baumann

Originally featured: September 2010
Last modified: May 12 2017 23:40:56.
Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains, by Milt McAuley
Flowering Plants: The Santa Monica Mountains, Coastal and Chaparral Regions of Southern California, by Nancy Dale
Images Botanical Terms for Leaves