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Blue verbena

Blue verbena

Blue verbena

Blue vervain is a native wildflower that spreads slowly through rhizomes and self-seeding. It can grow in disturbed sites and is commonly found in moist meadows, thickets, pastures, riversides, marshes, ditches, and river-bottom prairies. In NC it is found in only a few counties of the coastal, Piedmont and mountain areas.

Blue

Cardinals, sparrows, and juncos eat the seeds. Cottontail rabbits eat the foliage, however, most mammals avoid its bitter taste. Larval host plant for verbena moth and the common buckeye butterfly. Long and short-tongued bees collect the nectar and sometimes the pollen. Other bee pollinators include epoline cuckoo bees, eucerine miner bees, halictid bees, and the verbena bee (a specialist pollinator). In addition, the thread-waisted wasp, bee flies, thick-headed flies and golden soldier beetle are also known to all visit blue vervain.Blue Vervain occurs in every county of Illinois (see Distribution Map), where it is fairly common and native. Habitats include riverbottom prairies, moist meadows in floodplain woodlands, soggy thickets, borders of rivers and ponds, marshes, ditches, fence rows, and pastures. This plant adapts readily to degraded wetlands and other disturbed areas, but it can be found in higher quality habitats as well.

The flowers are often a pretty shade of blue-violet, but they are small in size. Among the various Verbena spp. in Illinois, Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata) is easy to identify because it is the only vervain with elegant spikes of flowers in this color range. Other Verbena spp. within the state, excluding introduced cultivated species, have white, pink, or lavender flowers.Multiple slender spikes, each 2 to 5 inches long and densely packed, at the top of the plant and arising from the upper leaf axils. Flowers are blue to violet or rarely rose pink, about ¼ inch across with 5 petals fused at the base forming a short tube. Inside the tube are 4 stamens and a short style. The calyx is green to purplish, shorter than the floral tube, about 1/8 inch long, short hairy with 5 lobes. Spikes elongate as the plants mature, with flowers blooming near the tip and fruit forming below. (Source: www.minnesotawildflowers.info)

 

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