Image by Deb Jackson Copyright 2000
Verbena hastata, Verbena simplex
Other Names: American blue vervain, Blue Vervain, Herb of Grace, Herbe Sacrée,
Herba veneris, Simpler's Joy, Swamp Verbena, Vervain, Wild hyssop, Wild Vervain
Blue Vervain is a North American native perennial herb, found growing along roadsides, in
open sunny fields, and waste places throughout the United States and southern
Cultivation: Blue Vervain succeeds in any moderately fertile well-drained
but moisture retentive soil in a sunny position, sow seed in early spring or root
division in spring. Basal cuttings in early summer. Harvest the shoots with plenty
of underground stem for transplanting. Growing erect from 2-3 feet tall, with square
stems and opposite branches. The leaves are opposite, serrate, and lanceolate with
short leaf stalks. The flowers are small and pale-lilac, 5 petaled and arranged on
long numerous spikes in a panicle. Blue Vervain flowers bloom from June to
September. Gather entire plant just before flowers open, dry for later herb use.
Gather after flowers fade and dry to loosen seed for roasting.
Blue Vervain is edible and medicinal. Vervain had many uses in Native
American culture as food and medicine. The seed are edible when roasted and are
ground into a powder and used as a piñole (an Indian flour).
The leaves and roots of Blue
Vervain are a valuable alternative medicine used as an antidiarrheal,
analgesic, anthelmintic, antiperiodic, astringent, diaphoretic, emetic,
sedative, tonic, vermifuge, vulnerary. It is useful in intermittent fevers, ulcers,
pleurisy, scrofula, gravel, easing pain in the bowels and expelling worms. A very
strong infusion is emetic. As a medicinal poultice it is good in headache and
rheumatism. An infusion of the plant is a good galactagogue (increases
breast milk) and used for female obstructions, afterpains and taken as a female tonic.
The infusion is used to help pass kidney
stones and for infections of the bladder. Used as a sudorific and taken for
colds and coughs. Also useful for insomnia and other nervous conditions. Recent
medical research has detected the presents of adenosine, aucubin, beta-carotene,
caffeic-acid, citral, hastatoside, lupeol, ursolic-acid, verbenalin, verbenin, and
other chemical constituents in this plant which prove these uses to be valid. But
much more research needs to be done on this herb and its constituents. It may prove
to be useful in treating many cancers and other diseases.
Iroquois witchcraft medicine, cold infusion of smashed leaves used to
make an obnoxious person leave. Vervain was considered a cure-all and sacred plant,
helping to save those of the medieval plagues. The name Vervain is derived from the
Celtic ferfaen, from fer (to drive away) and faen (a stone), as the plant was much
used for affections of the bladder. Another derivation is given by some authors from
Herba veneris, because of the aphrodisiac qualities attributed to it by the
Ancients. Priests used it for sacrifices, and hence the name Herba Sacra. The name
Verbena was the classical Roman name for 'altar-plants' in general, it was used in
various rites and incantations, and employed by magicians and sorcerers.
Medicinal tea: To 1 tbsp. dry herb add 1 pint boiling water, steep 10 min. take 1
tbsp. up to six times a day and take ½ teacup (2 oz.) warm before bedtime.
by Deb Jackson & Karen Bergeron
Blue Vervain Links
Botanical.com : Blue