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Verbenaceae: Verbena Family Plant Identification Characteristics.

Plants of the Verbena Family

      The Verbena family includes herbs, shrubs and a few trees. The leaves are usually opposite or whorled and sometimes aromatic. Verbena has squarish stems and may be confused with the Mints until you examine the flowers.

      The flowers are mostly bisexual and slightly irregular. They bloom in elongated spikes. There are typically 5 united sepals and 5 united petals, forming a tube with unequal lobes. There are 4 stamens (sometimes 2 or 5 outside the continent). The ovary is positioned superior. It consists of 2 (rarely 4 or 5) united carpels (syncarpous) with the partition walls present, forming an equal number of chambers. Additional false partitions may be present in some species. The fruit matures as 1 to 2 nutlets per carpel within North American species and often as a drupe or capsule in other parts of the world.

      Worldwide, there are about 75 genera and 3,000 species, including teak wood (Tectona) and the fast-growing "white teak" (Gmelina). Fifteen genera are found in North America, mostly across the southern states. Only Verbena is widespread. Note that an unrelated plant in the Four-O'Clock Family is called "sand verbena."

Key Words: Opposite or whorled leaves.
Flower parts in fives, united. Slightly irregular.

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Verbena hastata. Swamp Verbena or Blue Vervain.

Verbena hastata. Swamp Verbena or Blue Vervain.

Verbena gooddingii. Goodding Verbena.

Verbena gooddingii. Goodding Verbena. Chiricahua Mountains. Portal, Arizona.

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Verbena Family pictures

Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
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