VERVAIN

Verbena officinalis

Verbena Family [Verbenaceae]  

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8Aug month8sep month8sept

status
statusZarchaeophyte
flower
flower8pink
inner
inner8white
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZspiked
stem
stem8square
stem
stem8round
toxicity
toxicityZmedium

6th July 2006, Great Ormes Head, Llandudno, North Wales. Photo: © RWD
About three feet tall.


6th July 2006, Great Ormes Head, Llandudno, North Wales. Photo: © RWD
Any branches are mostly near the top emerging upwards at 45 degrees to the main stem. The upper stem is mostly bereft of leaves save for two that emerge below the branch.


6th July 2006, Great Ormes Head, Llandudno, North Wales Photo: © RWD
Flowers in opposite pairs near the tip of each shoot.


6th July 2006, Great Ormes Head, Llandudno, North Wales. Photo: © RWD
Stems are square, reddish on two opposite sides, greenish on the other, with very short fine hairs. Flowers are pinkish white with five petals.


6th July 2006, Great Ormes Head, Llandudno, North Wales. Photo: © RWD
Leaves are reminiscent of those of Mugwort, deeply lobed with rounded ends.


14th July 2008, resr, Ashley Manor Fm, IOW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
Unlike the specimen above from llandudno, these ones have round rather than square stems.


14th July 2008, resr, Ashley Manor Fm, IOW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
However, there are ridges or flutes on the stems in places, but not everywhere. The pink flowers have a tubular part which extends a little beyond the sepal teeth, before the 5 pink petals form a loose cup.


14th July 2008, resr, Ashley Manor Fm, IOW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
The sepal teeth (which are long) abruptly taper to a point. The reddish-brown stems are covered in white, very short but glandular hairs. There is a triangular bract just below the sepal cup and teeth.


14th July 2008, resr, Ashley Manor Fm, IOW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
Within the flowers there is very little evidence of the sexual organs, which must be hidden lower down within the sepal tube.


14th July 2008, resr, Ashley Manor Fm, IOW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
The leaves, which are in opposite pairs, are without stalks but have narrow wings instead. The edges of some are cut at intervals into long teeth angled ~45° forward. There is often a much shorter pair of leaves at right-angles to the long pairs of opposite leaves.


Distinguishing Feature : a rather straggly bush-like plant with stiff square stems, and a spike of 5-petalled pale-lilac flowers held closely to the stem on short stalks. Has very few branches, those it does have emerge in pairs at 45 degrees upwards near the top of the stem.

Although there are hundreds of garden plants in the Verbena family, Vervain is the only one that makes an appearance in any Wild Flower book. Vervain is a native plant of India and there it has long been associated with traditional treatments as a relaxant, nerve tonic, galactogogue, diaphoretic, anti-spasmodic and hepatic. The Chinese use Vervain for migraine and controlling female sex hormone fluctuations. Many of the compounds found in Vervain shown below are thought to be responsible for these actions.

In many parts of Europe the methanol extracts of aerial parts of Vervain (which contain Verbenalin, Hastatoside, Verbascoside and β-Sitosterol-D-glucoside) are used to treat the early stages of fevers, colds and nervous disorders as well as tooth decay and halitosis.

Wikipaedia lists several sub-species, but your Author knows not whether any occur in the UK. If some do, this may explain the slight differences in leaf shape near the bottom of the two specimens depicted above and the dichotomy in stem shape: square and round.

A MONOTERPENE

Vervain contains Verbenol, a pleasantly smelling terpene that has chemical similarities to that of Myrtenol contained within Bog Myrtle. It is valued as a food flavouring, and has also been utilised (together with Myrcene and Exo-brevicomin [neither of which are produced within Vervain) as a pheromone attractant for male mountain beetles (if they occur in the UK). Verbenol exists in two isomeric forms, cis- and trans- verbenol which themselves can exist in differing stereo-isomeric forms, the (S) and (R) enantiomers.

GLYCOSIDIC IRIDOIDS


A herbal tea made from Vervain has traditionally been used for the treatment of insomnia and other nervous conditions. The active principles responsible for these pharmacological effects are the glycosidic iridoids Verbenalin and Hastatoside, which Vervain contains. Both increased the amount of non-REM sleep after being administered to patients at night time. Both also increased the delta-wave activity in the brains during the non-REM sleep. Glc is an abbreviation for the monosaccharide Glucose In addition, Verbenalin exhibits uterine stimulant activity and has a direct action on smooth muscles. It is used as a drug by the veterinary profession.

PHENYL PROPANOID GLYCOSIDES


Vervain also contains two glycosides of phenyl-propanoids, Verbascoside and Eukovoside. Verbascoside , as its name suggests, was first found in Verbena. These, as well as Aucubin (aka aucuboside), are thought to possess galactogogue and emmenogogue actions. Eukovoside, a phenylethanoid glucoside, also occurs in Eyebright.


  Verbena officinalis  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Verbenaceae  

Distribution
family8Verbena family8Verbenaceae
 BSBI maps
genus8Verbena
Verbena
(Vervains)

VERVAIN

Verbena officinalis

Verbena Family [Verbenaceae]  

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