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Family: Verbenaceae J.St.-Hil.

Kingdom: Plantae Rank: Family Parent: Lamiales Status: Valid

Common Names:

  • VERVAIN - English, United States of America
  • VERBENA FAMILY - English, United States of America

Morphological Description

Family Recognition in the Field: Similar to the mint family (usually opposite leaves; stems often square; plants sometimes aromatic; sympetalous corollas) but differs in that the ovary has a single terminal style and the flowers are usually individually small.

Diagnosis: Annual or perennial herbs, shrubs, or small trees; stems square (not distinctly so in woody species); leaves opposite or the uppermost alternate, simple or compound, entire, toothed, or lobed; flowers axillary or terminal, in heads, spikes, or panicles; sepals 5, united basally; corollas sal- verform or funnelform, 4- to 5-lobed, slightly or markedly bilaterally symmetrical; stamens 4, attached to corolla tube near or below middle; pistil 2-carpellate, usually 2-4-lobed; style 1 and stigmas 1 or 2; ovary superior; fruits dry and separating into 4 one-seeded nutlets or fleshy and drupe-like.


Notes: A medium-large (950 species in 41 genera), mainly tropical family with a few species in temperate regions; it has often been treated more broadly to include groups now segregated into other families. It consists of herbs, shrubs, trees, and lianas and includes a number of ornamentals as well as the Asiatic Tectona grandis L. f. (TEAK), the source of a valuable, water-resistent wood. The family is related to the Lamiaceae and according to Judd et al. (1997), it appears to be paraphyletic. They suggested that from the cladistic standpoint, the Verbenaceae be limited to those taxa traditionally placed in the Verbenoideae (in nc TX this includes Aloysia, Glandularia , Lantana, Lippia, and Verbena), with the rest of the family put in a more inclusive, monophyletic Lamiaceae. However, recent molecular studies (Wagstaff & Olmstead 1997) do not support the monophyly of a clade composed of Lamiaceae sensu lato and Verbenaceae sensu stricto. Until the phylogeny of this group is more clearly resolved, we are treating these families in the traditional manner. Phryma has been placed in the Verbenaceae by a number of authorities (e.g., Cronquist 1981), but is here treated in its own family (see explanation under Phrymaceae). (subclass Asteridae).