Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Narrowleaf Vervain - Verbena simplex   Lehmann
Members of Verbenaceae:
Members of Verbena with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Lamiales » Family Verbenaceae
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AuthorLehmann
DistributionStrictly limited to the Piedmont, and mainly in the northeastern portion. Ranges west only to Forsyth and Catawba counties. An iNaturalist photo from Buncombe County is correctly identified, but the editors do not feel comfortable that it is a natural site; it is not mapped here.

This is a wide-ranging species, mostly centered in the Great Plains. It ranges from VT and MN south mainly to AL and OK. Though the species in NC is limited to the Piedmont, in VA is occurs over the Mountains as well.
AbundanceVery local, but in a few areas, such as Granville and northern Durham counties, it is locally common. Generally rare over the Piedmont as a whole, and limited to high pH soil. The tiny Moore County population occurs in Iredell Soil.
HabitatThis is a species restricted to circumneutral (high pH) soil, in dry places. It grows in glades, barrens, clearings, margins of rock outcrops, and in openings in Basic Oak-Hickory Forests. It does better than most "prairie plants" in occupying disturbed habitats such as powerline clearings and weedy fields, though the soil must be circumneutral.
PhenologyBlooms from May to September, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThough this is an erect native, it is much shorter than most others in the genus, growing only to about 1-1.5 feet tall, with a few ascending branches. It has scattered opposite stem leaves, oblanceolate to linear, toothed on the margins, and about 2-3 inches long but only 1/3-inch wide. Each branch is topped by a slender spike about 4 inches long, generally erect, with numerous small pale blue flowers. This is one of the very few "prairie plants" in NC with light blue flowers; when in bloom the plants are easy to identify, and even in leaf experienced biologists can usually separate it from other species. As mentioned above, this species can be a bit "weedy" in that it often occurs in fields, powerline clearings, and other disturbed places.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS2S3
Global RankG5
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US Status
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