This is both frustrating and very cool.
Remember, the other day I said I was trying to identify a mystery plant? I got it with the help of Carol Winder and friends, who are all on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
I asked her if she knew it, because she's a good botanist. But it turned out to be one of those stories of going all the way around the fence post to get to the barn. She got a friend of hers involved, who identified it as Verbena bracteata. The odd thing is that it's native to the US, not to Britain.
The frustrating part is that this is apparently a common plant. But I sure don't recall ever seeing it before this year. The USDA database shows it in every single state.
Here's what it looks like, creeping out along edges of driveways, sidewalks, etc. It's also called Creeping Vervain (or Verbena), Carpet Vervain (or Verbena), Bigbract Verbena, and Prostrate Verbena.
Those funky stalks are covered with hairy bracts. Those aren't the leaves. The leaves are lobed and are down near the roots.
There's a ring of little purple flowers around the end of each stalk.
It's sort of coarse looking, but very interesting. Since it's native, I think it would be interesting to use in a rock garden. However it's not a perennial, so you'd always have to be making sure some seeded in the same places.
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