Saturday, September 20, 2014

Verbena Hastata vs. Verbena Officianalis

I am a vervain lover.

I discovered it's uses 30 years ago while an exchange student in the South of France. Every cafe there would serve an Infusion De Verveine when asked, and I asked often.
The medicinal effects were undeniable -- it gave me a relaxed gentle feeling, not sleepy at all, just pleasant.  It also helped my digestion tremendously.
No wonder this plant has been used since ancient times, both Egyptians and Greeks noted it in their writings. The Druids used it, as well as Dr. Bach, who included it in his 38 original Bach Flower Remedies.

But we have a problem, currently, with the labeling of Vervain. There is a plant that is native to the Old World, and that is Verbena Officianalis, and there is a similar cousin from the new world, Verbena Hastata. Both of them are often labeled Vervain.

I have tried both as teas, and the Hastata plant does not have the same medicinal qualities or flavor as the Officianalis plant. Sadly, here in the US, there is no distinction between them.

Another layer of confusion is sometimes Vervain is mislabeled as Lemon Verbena. My goal is to correct this misinformation.

If you want to try some soap, this can be your first introduction to Verbena Officianalis, or True Vervain. I will be planting a crop of Vervain for the 2014-2015 season, and if the harvest is enough, I will be able to offer tea leaves in early Summer of 2015.  Let's hope our Colorado High Mountain Climate and sunny Summers will produce abundance of this magical plant.

"To those interested in magic and religion, there is no herb in the garden more worthy of attention, for this simple plant without fragrance, without an outer look of power, without a flower of significance, was singled out from among all other plants and herbs as the most sacred of the growing things of earth between the Pillars of Hercules and the roots of the Caucasus." 
--Henry Beston, 1935

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