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2019 Kansas Wildflower of the Year

Woolly Verbena —Verbena stricta



Cobaea Penstemon - field

by Brad Guhr

Woolly Verbena photos
by Michael Haddock

Woolly verbena (Verbena stricta) is the Kansas Native Plant Society 2019 Wildflower of the Year (WOY). It is also known by the common name hoary vervain.

Found throughout Kansas, this two to five-foot tall, stout and erect perennial with dense hairs on stems and leaves thrives in dry prairies, pastures, and disturbed areas. With up to 12-foot deep roots, this species is very drought tolerant.

In a natural prairie setting, woolly verbena is not aggressive. However, cattle do not like the bitter taste of this species so when competing species are eaten,  it will spread in a grazed pasture. Even though this species has a square stem and opposite leaves like all plants in the mint family, woolly verbena is in the closely related Verbenaceae or vervain family.

The flowers are five-petaled and fused at the base to form a tube. Purple ½” flowers bloom in pencil-like terminal clusters late summer, July to September. Seeds form as four nutlets per flower and are eaten by small birds and mammals. Leaves are larval host food for common buckeye butterflies.

Woolly verbena is a popular species to have in a native plant garden due to its erect form and showy late season color. It can bloom for 4-6 weeks, attracts a variety of pollinators, and spreads easily by seed when competition is low. Seeds germinate readily with two months of cold, wet stratification.

To see these photos by Michael Haddock and a detailed description of Verbena stricta, visit



Commentary by Brad Guhr
Verbena stricta images by Mike Haddock


Brad Gurh- Kansas Native Plant Society 2019

Above: Author Brad Guhr

Below: Plant images by Mike Haddock

Mike Haddock- Kansas Native Plant Society 2019