Verbena bracteata (Big-bract Verbena)
|Also known as:||Prostrate Vervain, Bracted Vervain, Creeping Vervain|
|Life cycle:||annual, biennial, perennial|
|Habitat:||sun; dry; roadsides, fields|
|Bloom season:||May - October|
|Plant height:||1 to 20 inch creeper|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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A whorl of stalkless flowers around the tip of a thick spike at the end of branching stems. Flowers are 1/8-inch across with 5 light blue to purple to pink petals fused at the base forming a slender tube. The petal lobes are unequal in size, the 2 upper slightly smaller than the lower 3. The mouth of the tube and into the throat is white; hidden inside the tube are 4 stamens and a short style. The calyx has 5 sharply pointed lobes and is nearly as long as the floral tube. At the base of each flower is a narrow leaf-like bract, lance-linear and up to ¾ inch long. Bracts and calyx are densely covered in stiff hairs. The spikes enlongate to 6 inches or more, with flowers blooming at the tip and fruit forming below.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are up to 3 inches long, 1 inch wide, hairy, and typically deeply lobed in 3 parts, the lobes coarsely toothed and may be further divided with shallower lobes. Stems are branched and fanning in all directions, covered with long spreading hairs, square, and sprawling but typically rising at the tip of a flower spike (decumbent).
Big-bract Verbena is a weedy species often found at the edges of roads, sidewalks, parking lots, lawns and other disturbed sandy or gravelly soils, fanning out in a mat up to nearly 2 feet in diameter but rarely rising more than 2 or 3 inches off the ground.
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Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Ramsey County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?