Vervain

Scientific name: Verbena officinalis
An introduced plant, vervain is widely naturalised in the UK. It is a great source of nectar for all kinds of insects and can be seen on rough grassland, waste ground, coastal cliffs and roadside verges.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 1m

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

June to October

About

Vervain, or verbena as it can be known, is native to South East Europe and was likely introduced here in Neolithic times, so has been long naturalised. It was widely cultivated as a medicinal herb in medieval gardens and has escaped often. It is a tall plant, with branching stems and clusters of small, purple flowers from June through to October. In the wild, it prefers chalky soils and can be seen on rough grassland, roadside verges, scrubby areas, coastal cliffs and waste ground.

How to identify

A tall plant with thin, branching stems, vervain has only a few oblong leaves. It displays clusters of tiny, purple flowers.

Distribution

Widespread in the south of the UK, scarcer in the north.

Did you know?

Globally, there are around 250 species of verbena. Some species planted in gardens, such as Verbena bonariensis and Verbena rigida, are not native to Europe but are very useful plants providing nectar for butterflies, bees and other pollinators.