Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Verbenaceae, Verbena or Vervain Family

The Verbenaceae, Verbena or Vervain Family is a small family of flowering plants found world-wide but mostly from tropical regions. World-wide, The Plant List includes 32 genera and 1,035 species. In North America, the U.S. Department of Agriculture lists 32 genera with 228 accepted taxa overall. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes. The type genus is Verbena.

The members of this family are trees, shrubs, herbs and lianas, often with herb-like aromatic fragrance. The family has recently undergone molecular phylogenetic studies and some of the species have been moved over to Lamiaceae, the Mint Family.

Plants of economic important are usually flowers and landscape ornamentals. Verbena officinalis (European) is an important medicinal plant used in teas and herbal remedies. Timber such as teak wood comes from the genus Tectona.

Common characteristics: Plants: aromatic, climbing or self-supporting. Leaves: opposite or whorled leaves; mostly simple, compound. Inflorescence: terminal or axillary, racemes, spikes, heads or clusters. Flower: bisexual; zygomorphic; calyx 5 sympetalous; corolla 4 or 5 also sympetalous, unequally lobed, sometimes strongly 2-lipped. Fruit: a drupe, capsule or nutlet.

The largest genera in North America include Verbena with 46 species, Clerodendrum, 19 species, Glandularia, 18 species, Lantana, 14 species, Stachytarpheta, 11 species and Vitex with 9 species.

Arizona species herbs or shrubs often with 4-angled stems, opposite or whorled leaves and perfect flowers in spikes or heads. The best known species are hybrid garden Verbena. Lantana and Vitex are commonly used as ornamentals the warmer parts of the United States, especially in the southwest.

  • Glandularia bipinnatifida, Dakota Mock Vervain
  • Glandularia gooddingii, Southwestern Mock Vervain
  • Lippia graveolens, Mexican Oregano
  • Phyla nodiflora, Turkey Tangle Fogfruit
  • Verbena bracteata, Bigbract Verbena
  • Date Family Profile Completed: 09/22/2016
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California; Verbenaceae (265) Vervain Family.
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database.[and all genera cited above - (accessed 09/22/2016).
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 09/22/2016).
    Gerald (Gerry) Carr, Phd., Emeritus Professor of Botany, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Botany Department website; Verbenaceae - (accessed 09/22/2016).
    “Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica"Verbenaceae". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. (accessed 09/22/2016).
    L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz; The families of flowering plants; Verbenaceae Jaume St-Hil. (accessed 09/22/2016).