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Verbena Hasta

Verbena Hasta

Verbena Hasta

Livestock will not eat Verbena so it may be thought of as "weedy" by some who observe it in a pasture setting. In a natural prairie it is not aggressive. In fact, it is a rather short-lived perennial that will not compete well with more aggressive vegetation. It self-seeds readily and is very easy to germinate, so it is a common component of many drier prairie seed mixes. The seeds are a staple for many small mammals and birds that depend on this widely-distributed plant.

Verbena

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. Verbena hastata (American Blue Vervain) is a tall, upright, clump-forming perennial adorned with spikes of small lavender purple flowers borne on tall, branched, candelabra-like stems. Blooming from early summer to fall, the blossoms open from the bottom upwards for a long-lasting display. Bumblebees are among the important pollinators. They attract butterflies and birds as well. They rise above the foliage of lance-shaped, sharply toothed, green leaves. An attractive perennial for the wildlife garden, the border, along streamsides and at pond edges.

The flowers of Blue Vervain attract many kinds of long-tongued and short-tongued bees, including honey bees, bumblebees, cuckoo bees (Triepeolus spp.), digger bees (Melissodes spp.), Halictid bees, and dagger bees (Calliopsis spp.), including the oligolectic Verbena Bee (Calliopsis verbenae). These bees seek primarily nectar, although some species collect pollen. Other floral visitors include Sphecid wasps, Vespid wasps, Syrphid flies, bee flies (Exoprosopa spp.), thick-headed flies (Physocephala spp.), small butterflies, skippers, and moths (Robertson, 1929). Other insects feed on the leaves and other parts of Blue Vervain and other Verbena spp. Examples of such insects include both adults and larvae of a flea beetle (Longitarsus suspectus), larvae of the Vervain Leaf Midge (Clinodiplosis verbenae), the Verbena Aphid (Macrosiphum verbenae), leaf-eating larvae of the Verbena Moth (Crambodes talidiformis), and larvae of the Verbena Bud Moth (Endothenia hebesana); see Clark et al. (2004), Felt (1917), Thomas (1877), Covell (1984/2005), and Miller (1987). Mammalian herbivores usually avoid eating this plant because of its bitter leaves – an exception is the Cottontail Rabbit, which may eat the foliage of young plants to a limited extent. Also, various songbirds occasionally eat the seeds, including the Cardinal, Swamp Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, and Slate-Colored Junco (Martin et al., 1951/1961). Experimental studies have shown that these seeds can pass undamaged through the digestive tracts of cattle, therefore they are probably distributed to some extent by these seed-eating birds. (Source: www.illinoiswildflowers.info)

 

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