Verbena hastata is native to North America and is incredibly similar in appearance and properties to its European cousin Verbena officinalis, whom it is often mistaken for. It grows with wild abandon in the Great Plains section of America, and can be found elsewhere on prairies, in meadows, and open woodlands. The Dakota tribe’s name for it translates as “medicine”.
Several of the names for vervain (Herb of the Cross, Herb of Grace, Holy wort) refer to the legend that the wounds of Jesus were dressed with vervain when he was taken down from the cross. This is disputed among biblical scholars as it is not referenced anywhere in modern bibles. It was also used as an ingredient in pagan love potions.