(redirected from Vervains)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.


verbena, common name for some members of the Verbenaceae, a family of herbs, shrubs, and trees (often climbing forms) of warmer regions of the world. Well-known wild and cultivated members of the family include species of the shrubby Lantana and of Verbena; many species of both are native to the United States. Many cultivated verbenas (herbs or shrubs) have fragrant blossoms and leaves that are sometimes used as condiments or for distillation of oils or for tea, as are those of the similar lemon verbena (Lippia citriodora) of tropical America and Africa. Wild American species are more frequently called vervains. The European vervain (V. officinalis), now naturalized in the United States, was sacred to the Greeks, Romans, and Druids and is associated in Christian tradition with the Crucifixion. In the Doctrine of Signatures, its bright flowers were seen as an indication that the plant could cure eye problems. Plants of the genus Avicennia are a characteristic constituent of tropical mangrove vegetation. Economically, the most important member of the family is teak. The family is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Lamiales.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
Enlarge picture


Blue-violet pencil-like flower clusters pointing upward with thin long pointy leaves. Root and leaf tea used for stomach and bowel issues, diarrhea, astringent, dysentery, expectorant, coughs, whooping cough, gum disease, colds, headaches, migraines, insomnia, ulcers, expelling worms, kidney stones, bladder, gallbladder, rheumatism, depression, stress, increasing breast milk and female wellness. Advisable to soak the seeds in several changes of water first. Indians used roasted ground seeds as flour. Apparently there have been some great results with tumors. Do not take while pregnant. Possible anti-fertility.
Edible Plant Guide © 2012 Markus Rothkranz


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Verbena officinalis, also known as vervain, is a plant in the family of Verbenaceae. Native to Europe and Asia, it is common in southern England and has become naturalized in North America. One to three feet in height, it is a slender annual with opposite, deeply incised leaves and numerous slender spikes of white or purplish flowers. The plant has been held in superstitious veneration for centuries.

Folk names for vervain include Brittanica, Enchanter's Plant, Herb of Enchantment, Herb of Grace, Juno's Tears, Pigeon's Grass, Simpler's Joy, Van-Van, and Verbena. It is ruled by the planet Venus and hence is thought to hold power in the field of love. It is also regarded as powerful for protection, purification, and chastity, and to bring healing and preserve youth. In addition to Venus, the plant is associated with Aradia, Isis, Kerridwen, Juno, Jupiter, and Thor.

Traditionally, vervain is gathered at Midsummer, or at the rising of the Dog Star. It should be gathered when neither sun nor moon is showing. Although its medicinal qualities have been held in doubt, its use as a magical herb is legendary. As a love amulet, any part of the plant may be carried. A Ceremonial Magician often wears a crown of vervain to protect from negative spirits. An infusion sprinkled around the magical temple will hold negativity at bay. Vervain is also used in exorcism.

Vervain worn around the neck, kept under the pillow, or made into an infusion and drunk each night is said to bring everlasting youth. The undiluted juice spread on the body is also said to cure numerous diseases and to guard against future health problems. Placed in a baby's cradle, it is said that vervain will ensure the child grows up with a happy disposition and a love of learning. Many Witches use vervain in love spells and protection spells and charms.

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


indicates bewitching powers. [Flower Symbolism: Flora S ymbo lica, 178]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


any of several verbenaceous plants of the genus Verbena, having square stems and long slender spikes of purple, blue, or white flowers
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005