Blue Vervain – Verbena hastata
American vervain, blue vervain and swamp verbena are flowering plants in the vervain family, Verbenaceae. It is a herb with opposite, simple leaves which have double-serate margins, borne on stiffly erect, branching square stems. The flowers appear in summer and are purple. This is a common plant that occurs across North America. They are hardy and drought resistant.
This species is a member of the diploid North American vervains which have 14 chromosomes altogether. Hybridization seems to have played some role in its evolution, presumably between some member of a group including the White Vervain (V. urticifolia), V. lasiostachys or V. menthifolia, and V. orcuttiana or a related species. In the recent evolutionary past, there has been an incident of chloroplast transfer of one of the latter or the Swamp Verbena to the mock vervain Glandularia bipinnatifida which is a close relative of the genus Verbena. It is unknown by what mechanism this happened, but it is suspected that hybridization is not responsible.
For centuries, Blue Vervain has been recorded in history by healers in Europe and North America. This bitter plant has a stimulating effect on the liver and a relaxing effect on the nervous system. For centuries, healers used Blue Vervain as an analgesic (pain reliever), for fevers, cramps, headaches, and as a natural tranquilizer. Blue Vervain is helpful to uplift mood. Externally, it has been used for minor cuts, scrapes, and acne. It was traditionally used as a tea with equal parts Blue Vervain and sugar. It should be avoided if pregnant. Large doses can cause vomiting and diarrhea.