Nettleleaf velvetberry, Nettleleaf vervain

Nettleleaf velvetberry -- Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants

Stachytarpheta urticifolia (syn. S. cayennensis)

Non-Native in Florida

blue porterweed

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    CATEGORY II on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council's (FLEPPC) 2013 List of Invasive Plant Species

    Photos taken in the Fern Forest Nature Center in Broward County.

    Photos were formerly misidentified (through July 2010) as Stachytarpheta jamaicensis.

    The following text was authored by Roger Hammer and excerpted from Tillandsia (July-August, 1994, and 2009), the newsletter of the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, accessed online August 2010 at: http://pinellas.fnpschapters.org/porterweeds.html

    Stachytarpheta urticifolia is fast becoming established as an escaped exotic in southern and central Florida. It is a four- to six-foot woody shrub with violet to purple flowers that only last a single day. Flowers are attractive and serve as excellent butterfly attractors. Leaves are dark green, somewhat glossy, with acute, marginal teeth. The leaves of S. urticifolia have distinct raised areas between the leaf veins, giving the leaf a quilted appearance. Growth habits are entirely different; S. jamaicensis is always low and sprawling, while S. urticifolia forms an upright woody shrub with a distinct trunk. S. urticifolia is native to tropical Asia.

    Do not confuse with the native blue porterweed, Stachytarpheta jamaicensis, a low-growing plant with branches that typically spread horizontally, forming a short central stem. The height of the plant, not counting the bloom spikes, averages about 10" high, sometimes mounding. The leaves are coarsely toothed and the teeth generally point toward the tip. The leaves are dull green or sometimes with a purplish blush. Small blue flowers are produced either singly or 2-3 in a cluster on a thickened spike to 12" long or more. Individual flowers last a single day.

    These two species have been confused in popular guidebooks to wildflowers and gardening. In addition, there are hybrids of the native S. jamaicensis and the exotic S. urticifolia. The hybrid looks similar to S. jamaicensis but has an upright growth habit from 2' to 3' tall. This hybrid is called S. x intercedens, and it does occur in Florida, especially where the two parents grow in close proximity to each other.