A perennial herb, usually of open habitats or bare ground on freely-draining, often calcareous soils. It is most frequent in rough grassland and scrub, on roadsides, and on sheltered coastal cliffs and rock outcrops; less often in quarries and gravel-pits, and on streamsides, wood-borders and walls. Lowland.
V. officinalis has been growing around human settlements since the Neolithic, and it was widely cultivated in medieval gardens. Since the 1962 Atlas there have been substantial losses in East Anglia, and some elsewhere.
As an archaeophyte V. officinalis has a Eurasian Southern-temperate distribution; it is widely naturalised outside this range.
PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.
Atlas text references
1986. Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
1978. Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 2. 2 vols.
1997. Life at the edge: a 14 year study of a Verbena officinalis population’s interactions with climate. Journal of Ecology. 85:899-906.