Verbenaceae is a family of tough little attractive plants,
many are favored for gardens. There are about 75 genera and 3000 species worldwide, mostly in tropical and subtropical regions, with only a few in the temperate regions.
The plant habit varies from trees to lianas to
shrubs and herbs. All species in our area are herbs. Leaves are usually simple, opposite (rarely
whorled or alternate), entire or divided, with no stipules.
The flower corolla is 5-lobed, 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. The flowers often have colored bracts at their bases and plants are sometimes thorny. The flowers are usually arranged in elongated clusters.
The fruit is a drupe, less commonly a capsule. The seeds have a straight, oily embryo and little
to no endosperm.
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. Economic uses include timbers, essential oils, teas, herbal medicines,
fruits, gums, tannins and ornamentals.