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White vervain has opposite, simple leaves on thin, rigid, green stems. The leaves look similar to those of Urtica, which is the reason for the plant being named urticifolia. The small flowers are borne in spikes; they open in summer and unusually for this normally bluish-flowered genus are white. The fruit is a dark- colored capsule with many brown and thin seeds. The entire plant except for the flowers and fruit is covered in stiff bristles.
White Vervain is a common plant in the eastern and central United States, found in woodland edges, old fields, pastures, roadsides, and disturbed areas. Its botanical name, urticifolia, refers to the resemblance it has to another common plant, nettle (Urtica spp.). The interesting dusty gray color of dormant plants offer a contrast to the fall prairie browns, golds and reds (see photo above.Erect, single-stemmed annual or perennial, 4-15 dm, often branching from near the base; lvs broadly lanceolate to oblong-ovate, petiolate, 5-12 cm, coarsely and somewhat doubly crenate-serrate; spikes paniculately disposed, slender; bracts ovate, acuminate, ciliate; cal-teeth short, subequal; cor white, the tube scarcely exserted, the limb 2(-4) mm wide, the lobes obtuse; fr exposed at the top; nutlets 1-2 mm; 2n=14. Thickets, moist fields, meadows, and waste places; N.B. (?) and Que. to N.D., s. to Fla. and Tex. June-Oct. Var. urticifolia, with the range of the sp., has the lvs hirtellous or glabrous on both sides, the hairs whitish, 1-1.3 mm, the cal strigose, 2-2.3 mm at maturity, and the nutlets 2 mm, corrugated on the back. Var. leiocarpa L. M. Perry & Fernald, with more restricted range, from Conn. and Pa. to N.D., S.C., and Okla., has the lvs densely velutinous with hairs to 0.3 mm, the mature cal puberulent, to 2 mm, the nutlets 1.5 mm, smooth. A hybrid with V. stricta is V. Ø©llicita Moldenke; one with V. hastata is V. Ø¥ngelmannii Moldenke.
Verbena urticifolia L. (N-Am.) – A very rare and ephemeral grain alien. First recorded at the Ghent Grain Terminal in the port of Gent in 1996 and later at the same locality also in 1997 and 2005 (always single specimens).Verbena urticifolia recently occurred in abundance at a pond margin in the Netherlands without obvious vector of introduction (van der Meijden & Holverda 2006).This species is a member of the verbena family (family Verbenaceae), which includes about 75 genera and 3,000 species of herbs, shrubs, and trees, mostly of tropical and warm temperate regions. Among them, teak is a highly prized furniture wood, and Vervain, Lantana, Lippia or Frog Fruit, and Chase Tree or Vitex are grown as ornamentals. (Source: www.wildflower.org)