Narrow-Leaved Vervain

Photo of narrow-leaved vervain plants in bloom.
Scientific Name
Verbena simplex
Verbenaceae (vervains)

Short, slender perennial with single stems or with upper stems sparingly branched. Stems 4-angled. Flowers on single spikes with many small, deep lavender or purple flowers. Blooms May–September. Leaves opposite, narrow, oblong, sessile or nearly so, coarsely toothed (other Missouri Verbena species have broader leaves).

Similar species: There are 7 Verbena species in Missouri, 5 with a wide distribution. This species is separated from the others by its narrowly lance-shaped, stalkless leaves, tall, thin flower spikes, and upright habit.


Height: to about 1½ feet.

Where To Find
image of Narrow-Leaved Vervain distribution map

Statewide except northeastern corner.

Occurs in glades, prairies, pastures and fields, waste places, rights-of-way, and other open, dry, or disturbed habitats.

Worldwide, various species of vervains have historically been used medicinally. Some species are cultivated in native wildflower gardens, partly for their showy flowers and partly for their attractiveness to butterflies.

Several types of bees, butterflies, and other insects visit the flowers. Verbenas are larval host plants for at least one moth species. Narrow-leaved verbena has been declared endangered in some New England states, which are trying to keep it from disappearing from within their borders.

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Similar Species
About Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants in Missouri
A very simple way of thinking about the green world is to divide the vascular plants into two groups: woody and nonwoody (or herbaceous). But this is an artificial division; many plant families include some species that are woody and some that are not. The diversity of nonwoody vascular plants is staggering! Think of all the ferns, grasses, sedges, lilies, peas, sunflowers, nightshades, milkweeds, mustards, mints, and mallows — weeds and wildflowers — and many more!