Leopard Lacewing (Cethosia Cyane) feeding on Blue Porterweed with purple flowers.

Blue Porterweed

Stachytarpheta jamaicensis
  • Division: Tracheophyta
  • Class: Magnoliopsida
  • Order: Lamiales
  • Family: Verbenaceae
  • Genus: Stachytarpheta
  • Species: jamaicensis


Blue porterweed grows mostly in the tropical regions of the Americas, including the Caribbean. This dense, low-growing shrub grows in woodlands, savannas, scrub, and wetlands; and you’ll often find it sprawling along the coast and beside roadsides. When stems reach about four feet tall, they droop toward the ground. An evergreen perennial that blooms nearly year-round in many places, its blue flowers attract bees and butterflies. A host plant for the tropical buckeye, blue porterweed also attracts large orange sulphurs, clouded skippers, gulf fritillaries, red admirals, and julias.


Long, swirly spikes bear small, showy, bluish or purplish flowers. Each flower stays open for just a day or so, but new flowers—on the same spike—open every few days. As blue porterweed grows large, its stems turn woody toward the base. Its small, dark green leaves have toothed edges.


Sand, clay or loam? This adaptable shrub will do fine in any soil that drains well—even lime rock. Give it partial shade or full sun, and don’t overwater it. Once established, blue porterweed is quite drought tolerant. It’s a great choice for a butterfly garden, meadow, ground cover, or in a hanging basket or other container.


We don’t recommend it, but blue porterweed is reported to have a wide range of medicinal uses, from treating fungal infections to high blood pressure, colds, constipation, diarrhea, boils, burns, earache, headache, allergies, worms, and “nervous pains.”

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This plant is not endangered or threatened, but in places where it isn’t native, it can be invasive. It has become naturalized in parts of tropical and subtropical Africa, Asia, and Europe.


The scientific genus name Stachytarpheta comes from the Greek stachys, meaning "spike," and tarphys, meaning "thick," or “dense”—a reference to the dense flower spikes



Other common names for this plant include rat’s tail, vervain, snakeweed, Brazilian tea, devil’s coachwhip, gervao, verbena cimarrona, rooter comb, and “worryvine.” In Malaysia and Indonesia, it is known as jolok cacing or selasih dandi.