Information on Vervain

Common Name: Vervain
Scientific Name: Verbena officinalis
Irish Name: BeirbhÊine
Family Group: Verbenaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Vervain is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.

Growing in dry, grassy places, waste ground and chalky soil, Vervain is an upright, erect, plant which reaches 70 cm. A perennial, it bears pretty, pale, violet-coloured flowers (4 – 5 mm across) in narrow leafless spikes from June to October. Each two-lipped flower has five lobes, two above the mouth and three below. The violet colour is slightly darker towards the edges of the lobes and gradually pales towards the centre of each flower where there are four stamens. The rough, hairy, lanceolate leaves are pinnate and opposite, in pairs. The stems are stiff and square. This introduced species is not found too often in the northern half of Ireland, being mainly confined to the more southerly half.  It belongs to the Verbenaceae family. 

I found this plant growing in Inistioge, County Kilkenny in 2011 when I also photographed it. 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

This species is classed as NEAR THREATENED in the Red Data List of Vascular Plants 2016.

In Nathaniel Colgan’s ‘Flora of the County Dublin’ (1904), Colgan wrote:

‘First record in 1794’: Wade Dubl.’A relic of cultivation which has held its ground for upwards of a century in its stations at Bray and Woodlands’.

Perhaps it was cultivated following advice from sixteenth-century herbalist, John Gerard who wrote:

‘Most of the later Physitions do give the juice or decoction hereof to them that have the plague: but these men are deceived, not only in that they looke for some truth from the father of falsehood and leasings, but also because in stead of a good and sure remedy they minister no remedy at all; for it is reported, that the Divell did reveale it as a secret and divine medicine’.