Verbenaceae is a family of tough little attractive plants; many favored for gardens. The leaves are opposite or whorled, often lobed or toothed. The flower corolla is 5-petaled, sometimes 2-lipped, with two pairs of stamens. The calyx may be 2 or 5 lobed. The single pistil creates 2 or 4 nutlets, each with a single seed.
Verbana officinalis., a european native, is widely used for teas and herbal remedies. Western U.S. species have been used as a sedative during the early stage of viral infection.
On Montara Mountain, Verbanaceae is represented by Verbena lasiostachys var. scabrida - Robust Verbena.
Flowers: Blue - purple; 5-petaled, 2-lipped flowers on an inflorescence up to 4 inches long.
Blooms: May - September.
Leaves: 1 to 4 inches long, opposite, decidedly green, upper surface rough to the touch.
Fruit/Seeds: Small nutlets in pairs containing a single seed.
Location: Very common along trails and open areas during summer.
Status: Native - Common.
Further description & Comment: 2 to 6 inches tall, square stems.
When I first saw this plant, I almost assumed it to be an invasive from its tendency to grow along trails and disturbed areas, but further investigation revealed it to be a opportunistic native. "Robust" is a good name for it - the trail plants get tromped on considerably and seem to keep on thriving.
It's close relative isVerbena lasiostachys var. lasiostachys - Western Verbena - which has grayish, hairy leaves that do not have the rought surface. Some books list it as an alien species.
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