Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for South American Vervain - Verbena bonariensis   L.
Members of Verbenaceae:
Members of Verbena with account distribution info or public map:
Google Images
Section 6 » Order Lamiales » Family Verbenaceae
Show/Hide Synonym
DistributionScattered across the state, with a concentration in the southern Coastal Plain. Other specimens from Dare, Gaston, Jackson, and New Hanover counties are actually V. brasiliensis. However, with the recent splitting out of V. incompta from it, the range as mapped below might be overstated.

Native of South America; in N.A. NC to GA -- as mapped by BONAP and Weakley (2018), but this is probably incomplete.
AbundancePerhaps uncommon to locally fairly common in the Coastal Plain; rare to uncommon in the Piedmont and Mountains. However, some or many of these records and thus part of this abundance may refer to V. incompta.
HabitatDry to moist soils of roadsides, fields, pastures, greenway trailside, edge of artificial pond, disturbed places.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting May-October.
IdentificationPurpletop Vervain is a tall 1-few-stemmed plant to 7 feet, though typically reaching about 4-5 feet tall. The stem leaves are sessile and clasp the stem (vs. tapered to the base and not clasping in V. brasiliensis), sharply toothed, and lance-shaped. The inflorescence consists of terminal and axillary shoots with flat-topped clusters of short spikes. These spikes have many tiny rich magenta to purple flowers. V. brasiliensis also differs in its shorter corolla tubes, and its smaller flowers are mostly lavender -- not as striking in bloom as is V. bonariensis. To differentiate it from V. incompta, see that species account. Note: in a couple of specimens of V. bonariensis at NCU, the inflorescence clusters are modified into a semi-globular shape--very distinct!
Taxonomic CommentsIn recent years, V. incompta has been described and pulled out of this species.

Other Common Name(s)
State RankSE
Global RankGNR
State Status
US Status
USACE-agcpFAC link
USACE-empFAC link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
Select a source
Select an occurrence type