Latin for Gardeners: July 2019

July’s Native Maryland Plant 

Verbena hastata L.

(vur-BEE-nuh hass-TAH-tuh)

Common Name: Blue Vervain

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Verbena hastata is often described as having a candelabra-like inflorescence.  It grows on erect stems that can reach 5’ and its tiny 5-lobed, tubular flowers attract a variety of pollinators.  In my garden I’ve observed long and short-tongued bees that quickly circle the flower from top to bottom, collecting nectar as they go; other insects tend to linger. Its bitter foliage is said to be unpalatable to herbivores although tender new growth is susceptible to nibbling by rabbits. I planted Verbena hastata with other moisture-loving plants in a consistently wet area in my yard. I was delighted to learn that this plant is a host plant for both the verbena moth and common buckeye butterfly and that the seeds are eaten by songbirds, including sparrow, junco and cardinal. How wonderful is that?  If you have wet areas in your garden and deer pressure – I suggest you give Verbena hastata a try.  I’ll be recommending it at the next Bay Wise visit where residents have wet ground to cover.

 

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~ Alison Milligan – Mstr. Gardener/Mstr. Naturalist/Mstr. Watershed Steward

Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional (CBLP)

aligmilligan@gmail.com