Verbena litoralis (blue vervain)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Biology and Ecology
- Air Temperature
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Verbena litoralis Kunth
Preferred Common Name
- blue vervain
Other Scientific Names
- Verbena affinis M. Martens & Galeotti
- Verbena approximata Briq.
- Verbena gentryi Moldenke
- Verbena longifolia M. Martens & Galeotti
International Common Names
- English: blue vervain; Brazilian vervain; common verbena; seashore vervain
- Spanish: verbena
Local Common Names
- USA/Hawaii: ha‘uowi; oi; owi
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
Verbena litoralis is a short-lived herbaceous plant, native to many of the tropical areas of Central and South America. Although the species has spread to other countries from its native environment, and is sometimes regarded as an invasive threat (in Australia and some states of the USA), it often seems to be restricted to disturbed habitats like roadsides, stream banks, tracks and waste places. Information on its effects on other plant species is not well reported, nor is there any evidence to suggest it has any serious impacts on specific environments or ecosystems.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Lamiales
- Family: Verbenaceae
- Genus: Verbena
- Species: Verbena litoralis
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
According to Webb et al. (1988), in New Zealand V. litoralis has often been mistaken for V. officinalis, but the toothed rather than lobed leaves and longer flowering period distinguish it. V. litoralis has also sometimes been erroneously called V. hastata in New Zealand.
DescriptionTop of page
Webb et al., (1988) describes V. litoralis as a:
“Short-lived perennial; stems square, somewhat scabrid, to c. 1 m tall. Leaves mostly petiolate, the uppermost sometimes subsessile. Lamina of lower leaves to c. 10 × 2.5 cm, lanceolate to oblong or rhomboid, with ± strigulose hairs scarcely swollen at base above and below, usually coarsely or deeply serrate; veins not impressed above; base attenuate; apex acute. Inflorescence loosely paniculate; spikes to c. 5 cm long at maximum flowering, hairy, elongating to c. 15 cm long at fruiting, slender; flowers rather dense but soon becoming distant. Bracts ± = calyx at flowering, lanceolate, keeled, acuminate, ciliate. Calyx 2-3 mm long, glandular-hairy; teeth green, acute. Corolla tube > calyx, rather sparingly hairy outside; limb 2-3 mm diam., bluish or mauve, drying a similar colour. Nutlets c. 1.5 mm long, oblong, faintly ribbed dorsally, brown, finely white-papillate on flattened ventral surface”.
Plant TypeTop of page Biennial
DistributionTop of page
Native to Mexico and mainly the tropical areas of Central and South America, widely naturalized elsewhere (Wagner et al., 1999; Ugarte et al., 2011).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Japan||Present||Introduced||Mito and Uesugi, 2004|
|South Africa||Present||Introduced||USDA-ARS, 2012|
|USA||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
Central America and Caribbean
|Costa Rica||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2012|
|El Salvador||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2012|
|Puerto Rico||Present||Introduced||USDA-ARS, 2012|
|Brazil||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Minas Gerais||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2012|
|-Rio de Janeiro||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2012|
|-Rio Grande do Sul||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2012|
|-Santa Catarina||Present||Native||USDA-ARS, 2012|
|Chile||Present||Ugarte et al., 2011; USDA-ARS, 2012|
|-Easter Island||Present||Introduced||Invasive||PIER, 2012|
|Ecuador||Present||USDA-ARS, 2012; IABIN, 2013|
|Portugal||Present||Introduced||Almeida and Freitas, 2006|
|UK||Present||Introduced||Clement and Foster, 1994|
|-New South Wales||Present||Introduced||Atlas of Living Australia, 2012|
|-Queensland||Present||Introduced||Atlas of Living Australia, 2012|
|-Victoria||Present||Invasive||Atlas of Living Australia, 2012|
|-Western Australia||Present||Introduced||Atlas of Living Australia, 2012|
|New Caledonia||Present||Introduced||PIER, 2012|
|New Zealand||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Webb et al., 1988|
|Norfolk Island||Present||Introduced||Invasive||PIER, 2012|
|Northern Mariana Islands||Present||Introduced||PIER, 2012|
|Pitcairn Island||Present||Introduced||Invasive||PIER, 2012|
|US Minor Outlying Islands||Present||Introduced||Invasive||PIER, 2012|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
First recorded from New South Wales in 1902, from Queensland in 1909 (The Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2012) and from New Zealand in 1911 (Webb et al., 1988). The species was probably introduced to these areas (and others) by accident as a contaminant in ship ballast or in packing material. In Australia, the genus has been used as an ornamental in the past but it's popularity has decreased in recent years.
IntroductionsTop of page
|Introduced to||Introduced from||Year||Reason||Introduced by||Established in wild through||References||Notes|
|Natural reproduction||Continuous restocking|
|Chile||USA||1849||Ugarte et al. (2011)|
|New South Wales||1902||Hitchhiker (pathway cause)||Yes||The Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (2012)|
|New Zealand||1911||Hitchhiker (pathway cause)||Yes||Webb et al. (1988)|
|Queensland||1909||Hitchhiker (pathway cause)||Yes||The Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (2012)|
|Western Australia||1984||Yes||The Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (2012)|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
With improved seed inspection regulations and the limited use of ship ballast in modern times, the risk of accidental introduction may now have been largely mitigated. The species is not known to be sold currently in Australia as an ornamental but the genus was very popular in the past with many hundreds of cultivars. Therefore, although its popularity has decreased over the years, trade in seed has been a significant pathway and should not be discounted as a potential source of introduction. The plant may also still be used for its medicinal properties.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Disturbed areas||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Rail / roadsides||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Urban / peri-urban areas||Present, no further details||Natural|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
No mention found of any particular species affected by its presence.
Biology and EcologyTop of page
2n= 28, 56 (Motooka et al., 2003). No hybridization has been reported.
The colourful flowers are attractive to bees and no doubt other insects, although no information is available on specific floral visitors.
V. litoralis fruit a small nut, which is unlikely to be dispersed long distance by the wind (Webb et al., 1988).
Physiology and Phenology
It is a short-lived perennial plant (Webb et al., 1988).
None mentioned in the literature.
In Chile, its native environment, this species typically grows at low altitude in valleys and coastal areas but can be found between 500 and 2000 m in the coastal mountain areas. It prefers dry, sunny, arid areas and can withstand long periods of drought and has a USDA Hardiness Zone 9 rating. The plant does not tolerate snow, but can tolerate occasional freezing spells of about - 5° C (the typical morning frost of central Chile)(Belov, 2012).
ClimateTop of page
|Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°|
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||-5|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Dry season duration||3||10||number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall|
|Mean annual rainfall||100||800||mm; lower/upper limits|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
No known enemies are reported within the current literature.
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)
The small nuts produced by V. litoralis areunlikely to be moved far by the wind. Whether they can float or not is unknown.
Vector Transmission (Biotic)
Biotic transmission is unlikely, but is still unknown.
It is most likely that seeds were accidentally introduced to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa via ship ballast, seed samples of other species or in hay or straw or other vegetable material. In Australia, however, it could also have been easily introduced as seed for sowing as an ornamental. Material was grown in botanic gardens and the genus was extremely popular in the nineteenth century with hundreds of cultivars; many of which would not have been formally identified.
The plant is not considered ornamental so it is unlikely to have been intentionally introduced to new areas. However, it does have some claimed medicinal uses (Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases, 2012).
Pathway CausesTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
Economic ImpactTop of page
In Hawaii, the species is reported to displace forage pastures (Motooka et al., 2003), which may cause economic problems.
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Motooka et al. (2003) noted that native species in disturbed forests in Hawaii have been displaced by V. litoralis. However, no further impacts have been documented.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Pioneering in disturbed areas
- Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
- Has high reproductive potential
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Reduced amenity values
- Competition - shading
UsesTop of page
V. litoralis is or has been used for antifertility, bruises, coughs, malaria, purgative, tumours and as a panacea (Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases, 2012).
Goats and possibly other animals or livestock will not browse on the plant (Motooka et al., 2003).
Uses ListTop of page
- Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
Generally V. litoralis is similar to some other species of Verbena.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Normal phytosanitory importation standards should prevent or reduce the chances of further introductions elsewhere.
Plants could easily be pulled, dug out, or mown.
V. literolis is sensitive to foliar application of 2,4-D. (Motooka et al., 2003). Presumably the species can be controlled, like other species of Verbena, with common herbicides like glyphosate.
ReferencesTop of page
Allan Herbarium, 2000. Nga Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plant Names Database. New Zealand: Landcare Research. http://nzflora.landcareresearch.co.nz/
Almeida JD; Freitas H, 2006. Exotic naturalized flora of continental Portugal - A reassessment. Botanica Complutensis, 30:117-130 pp.
Atlas of Living Australia, 2012. Atlas of Living Australia. Canberra ACT, Australia: GBIF. www.ala.org.au
Belov M, 2012. Chileflora. Talca, Chile: Michail Belov. http://www.chileflora.com/
Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases, 2012. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. Beltsville, USA: USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/duke/ethnobot
IABIN, 2013. Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network. http://iabin.databasin.org/
ITIS, 2013. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). Washington, DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution/NMNH. http://www.itis.gov/
Jepson Flora Project, 2012. Jepson eFlora. Berkeley, California, USA: University of California. http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/IJM.html
Maroyi A, 2012. The casual, naturalised and invasive alien flora of Zimbabwe based on herbarium and literature records. Koedoe - African Protected Area Conservation and Science, 54(1):6. http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v54i1.1054
Mito T; Uesugi T, 2004. Invasive alien species in Japan: the status quo and the new regulation for prevention of their adverse effects. Global Environmental Research, 8(2):171-191.
Motooka P; Castro L; Nelson D; Nagai G; Ching L, 2003. Weeds of Hawaii's pastures and natural areas: an identification and management guide. Honolulu, HI, USA: College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 184 pp.
PIER, 2012. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html
PlantNET, 2015. New South Wales flora online. Sydney, New South Wales, Australia: National Herbarium of New South Wales. http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/floraonline.htm
Randall RP, 2012. A global compendium of weeds, 2. Western Australia: Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, 1124 pp.
The Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2012. Australia's Virtual Herbarium., Australia: The Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria. http://avh.chah.org.au
Ugarte E; Lira F; Fuentes N; Klotz S, 2011. Vascular alien flora, Chile. Check List, 7(3):365-382 pp.
USDA-ARS, 2012. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysearch.aspx
USDA-NRCS, 2012. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center. http://plants.usda.gov/
Wagner WI; Herbst DR; Sohmer SH, 1999. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawaii, revised edition. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: University of Hawaii Press.
Webb CJ; Sykes WR; Garnock-Jones PJ, 1988. Flora of New Zealand Volume IV. Naturalised Pteridophytes, Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons. Christchurch, New Zealand: DSIR Botany Division, 1365 pp. http://floraseries.landcareresearch.co.nz/pages/Book.aspx?fileName=Flora%204.xml
ContributorsTop of page
31/10/12 Original text by:
Ian Popay, consultant, New Zealand, with the support of Landcare Research.
Distribution MapsTop of page
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