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PlantFiles: Blue Porterweed, Purple Porterweed, Blue Rat's Tail, Verbena Azul, Cayenne Snakeweed
Stachytarpheta cayennensis

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Family: Verbenaceae (ver-be-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Stachytarpheta (stay-kee-tar-FEE-tuh) (Info)
Species: cayennensis (kae-yen-EN-sis) (Info)

Synonym:Stachytarpheta indica
Synonym:Verbena jamaicensis
Synonym:Stachytarpheta villosa
Synonym:Stachytarpheta urticifolia

5 vendors have this plant for sale.

32 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden

Category:
Herbs
Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Height:
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

Spacing:
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

Hardiness:
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade

Danger:
Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Dark Blue

Bloom Time:
Blooms all year

Foliage:
Veined
Good Fall Color

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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There are a total of 28 photos.
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Profile:

20 positives
2 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Positive purplelady45 On Jul 23, 2013, purplelady45 from Palm Beach Gardens, FL wrote:

Beautiful plant i have it in my pollinator garden in blue and red .

Positive Suzy_Bee On May 11, 2013, Suzy_Bee from Spring, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Bought two one-gallon Porterweed plants from Arbor Gate in Tomball, Texas. They were selling it in the native plant section, and I've always assumed it was a native. Can't wait to try for some good butterfly shots when they find it.

Positive Daddysbug On Nov 19, 2012, Daddysbug from Conroe, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

First time growing Porterweed. The butterfies cover it to the extent that I can barely see the blooms. Mine is planted in full sun and is 7' tall. I will move it to a spot this fall where it will not shade out other sun-loving plants. So far, it has not been invasive (one year). I will tolerate invasive for the beauty of the plant and the butterflies.

Positive gardenwidow On Sep 26, 2012, gardenwidow from Altamonte Springs, FL wrote:

Hi from Sunny Altamonte Springs FL: Porterweed, which I have always refered to by the name of butterfly tree.... I have come to be overloaded with in the purplish/blue variety. I love them and they love me! When my husband was alive we had one plant at all times. I am not sure if he dug up the babies all the time or they just never multilplied till I had the duty of gardening alone. I share them all the time with family, neighbors and friends. I just found some today in a clearance rack at Lowes in a red color. I love that shade and picked up a few of the plants to share.....My garden is loaded with butterflies, humming birds all the time. The plants grow so big I have to cut them down to less than 2 feet tall in August and they will regrow in the next month or two. They are hardy in the cold in the roots. The leaves brown off,I trim them up, usually down to the ground, leaving a few inches showing. In the spring I have a bigger fatter tree and loads of babies growing around. They are so pretty in the purplish blue variety I can not wait to see the red ones I have planted in between. When I was at the store a Jamacian woman stopped me and told me she makes a tea from the green branchs and it helps with her diabetes and in Jamaica they say it is good for high blood pressure. I would love to hear if anyone has used it for tea and would love to share the information with few friends.

Positive jfelker On Sep 19, 2012, jfelker from Memphis, TN wrote:

This plant looks beautiful in a pot and blooms all year round in Memphis TN. It is in partial shade. I thought it had died once when it got extremely hot and dry and I didn't water it. It got brown and stopped flowering. But it bounced right back when I went back to watering occasionally during the heat wave and is better than before.

Positive anyoltime On Mar 2, 2011, anyoltime from Brandon, FL wrote:

as of last update02/2011 it doesn't appear that there has been a determination of "invasiveness" see link

http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/assessment/conclusions.html
then click on conclusion by common name then search
porter weed till you see stachytarpheta cayennensis next to it.
also one other florida invasive site lists only south florida,not central or north florida as areas where this plant is invasive.
one could assume that the colder winter temps keep it in check.....but ill wait for the investigators to do there job.
i currently grow it in full sun and partial shade locations with great success.

Positive angcentralfl On May 24, 2010, angcentralfl from Homosassa, FL wrote:

This plant is an annual where I live, but very well worth planting each year if you are looking to attract butterflies-the most sought out plant in my butterfly garden. Starts off about 18 in. tall when i buy it, and ends up being a bush about 4ft. tall before it freezes, and so wide, it starts to kind of 'topple" over.

Positive dermoidhome On Apr 24, 2010, dermoidhome from Baton Rouge, LA wrote:

Great hummingbird plant, but not winter hardy here in Baton Rouge (8B).

Positive Rainbowman18 On Feb 6, 2008, Rainbowman18 from Weston, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

"Hey, where did that come from?" was my thought when I saw blue Porterweed growing in between and higher than my trimmed snow queen hibiscus. After some thought and consideration, I remembered that the neighbor to the west of me had a stand of the plant in their yard about 100 feet from where mine were a' poppin'.

I was enamored with the purple-blue small flowers and the definite contrast to the variegated white and green leaves of the snow queen. Mine are the woody, tall variety, growing to about 6 feet or more.

As a matter of fact, they have dropped seed and saplings have emerged, which I then transplanted to a less obscure part of my garden. Two of the plants now have center stage near some gloxinia sylvatica (Bolivian Sunset) and variegated agaves in the N.E. part of my garden.

Even though they may be considered invasive, I will keep a tight reign on them and proceed to have a couple of trimmed mounds where I choose. I'm ready for the butterflies and bees to come around also during spring and summer season.

Positive iae On Jan 29, 2008, iae from Durban
South Africa wrote:

This amazing plant grows very fast in gardens on the east coast of South Africa. It is perpetually in bloom and attracts large numbers of bumble bees, honey bees, butterflies and birds - outdoing even the pentas. It is best grown in clusters to avoid that leggy look and once established is a colourful addition to the garden requiring little maintenance. I have both pink and purple ones but have difficulty in telling the varieties of stachytarpheta apart since s. mutabilis, s. urticifolia and s.cayennensis are so similar.

Neutral htop On Dec 20, 2007, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have not grown this plant. Porterweed (Stachytarpheta urticifolia) which is a naturalized (introduced) plant in Florida, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Having had great difficulty identifying a porterweed because some photos on the internet have been misidentified as well as the descriptions of some types of porterweed can be incorrect, I am adding a portion of an article entitled "Plant Profile: The So-Called Porterweeds". This information is written by Roger Hammer appeared on the Florida Native Plant Society webpage (Copyright 2003-2007 --- Revised July 14, 2006) - Reprinted from The Tillandsia (Miami-Dade Chapter), Jul.-Aug. 1994.

"Plants offered in many Florida nurseries and garden shops are either mislabeled or sold under names with no botanical standing. This adds to the taxonomic confusion surrounding the genus. There is but a single species native, or presumably native, to Florida, and that is Jamaica porterweed, Stachytarpheta jamaicensis, sometimes referred to as "blue porterweed." This is a sub shrub growing to a typical height of only one or two feet with a sprawling or decumbent habit. It often forms a dense mound of stems in cultivation. Leaves are dull, light green or gray-green, although some plants may be entirely blushed with purple. The leaf margins are coarsely serrate and the teeth are generally forward-pointing (towards the leaf tip). The leaves are usually glabrous (smooth) above, but may also be pilose (slightly hairy) on the lower surface, and there are no prominent raised areas between the leaf veins. One to several small, blue flowers are borne on green, quill-like spikes. With each passing day, flowers appear slowly up the stem, but each flower lasts only a single day.

Jamaica porterweed is generally considered to be a Florida native, although some botanists believe that this species arrived in Florida along with early Bahamian settlers who brought seeds of medicinal plants with them. This is a species of roadsides and other disturbed sites, seldom being found in undisturbed native plant communities.

All other species of the genus found in Florida are clearly exotic. The most prominent species that is fast becoming established as an escaped exotic in southern and central Florida is Stachytarpheta urticifolia (or S. urticaefoli). This a four- to six-foot woody shrub with violet to purple flowers that, like the flowers of S. jamaicensis, only last a single day. A flowering specimen is quite attractive and is an excellent butterfly attractor. There is a highly-prized white-flowered form (forma albiflora) cultivated on Guadaloupe and Martinique in the Lesser Antilles. Leaves are dark green, somewhat glossy, with acute, marginal teeth that are more numerous and outward-pointing with S. jamaicensis. When comparing these two species, look closely at the leaves and growth habit. The leaves of S. urticifolia have distinct raised areas between the leaf veins, giving the leaf a quilted (bullate) 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."

Negative MotherNature4 On Oct 25, 2007, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I don't think any of you are listening to NativePlantFan9. He is absolutely correct. This plant is INVASIVE. We may think it is nice that it reseeds in our yards, but it reseeds EVERYWHERE.

Please, GO NATIVE with S. jamaicensis.

Positive donnacarl On Oct 29, 2006, donnacarl from Houston, TX wrote:

I stumbled across this plant in a Houston, Texas nursery about 4 years ago and had never seen it before, so I bought it. It was labeled "Porter Weed" with no other identification. I haven't found it offered here in any nursery since, and when I asked about the plant, I was told I would need a better name than Porter Weed to locate it.

This has got to be one of my all-time favorite plants. Though the flowers are small, they are constant, and the deep blue color is eye-catching. My plant is just off the patio where it is seen year round, and it's always beautiful and always covered with butterflies, some of which I've never seen before. They flock to the Porter Weed all day long and cling to the flowers and stalks with wings spread. I've taken some really neat pictures while they pose amid the beautiful blue flowers. Though butterflies and hummingbirds abound, I've never seen any bees around the flowers, which seems a little odd. However, I'm quite happy to avoid the bees. Afraid my one plant might die in a freeze or just get sick, I've tried to start cuttings to no avail. I've only had a couple of plants come up as seedlings, and lost both during transplant. I have just started collecting seed in hopes of starting additional plants. I would recommend this plant to anyone. It's one of my favorites, second only to the Brugmansias that perfume my garden.

Positive t_florida On Sep 10, 2006, t_florida from Gainesville, FL wrote:

This is by far the best performing plant in my garden! I always see it sorrounded by zebra long-tail butterflies during the Fall here in Florida. Seeds are easy to collect when the stems with flowers "die" off.

Positive budgielover On Dec 23, 2005, budgielover from Pinellas Park, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I love this plant. I have the red, purple and salmon varieties. The red may indeed be a different species as it tends to be a lower mounding shrub unlike the other two that can get leggy. Still and all, they are all very nice plants and a great addition to a butterfly garden. I mulch the bottoms of mine and have never yet as volunteer seedlings. Sometimes I wish I did as it would have me from propagating from cuttings.

Positive Willygator On Oct 25, 2005, Willygator from Gulf Breeze, FL wrote:

Grows well in Gulf Breeze, Florida (panhandle-Pensacola zone 8B). Planted in 2004 in the shade of a medium Dogwood tree (full morning sun, filtered early afternoon sun and full late afternoon shade). In 2005 it took off and has bloomed all year but most prolifically in Spring and Fall. Currently (Oct 05) it is 4.5 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Soil is very sandy with a slight topsoil layer. Butterflies love it.

Neutral NativePlantFan9 On Sep 27, 2005, NativePlantFan9 from Boca Raton, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

This exotic species is much more commonly sold in central and southern Florida nurseries than the native S. jamaicensis; however, it is often erronously (and mistakenly) sold as the latter native species. Here are the differences between the two species:

S. urticifolia:
-Large to medium, spreading shrub
-Exotic (not native) to Florida
-More commonly sold than the native S. jamaicensis
-Has thinner, more sharply cut (divided) leaves than the native species, hence the common name 'Nettle-leaf Velvetberry'
-Can get lanky and unattractive after a while, unlike the native species; higher maintenance
-Has smaller, darker violet/purple flowers than the native species
-Has longer, thinner flower stalks than the native species

S. jamaicensis:
-Low-growing, spreading groundcover
-Native to Florida
-Less commonly sold than the exotic S. urticifolia
-Has thicker, narrower, somewhat longer, less divided and less sharp-edged leaves than the exotic species (S. urticifolia) more commonly sold
-Needs less higher maintenance than the exotic S. urticifolia and does not get as lanky and unattractive
-Has larger, lighter violet/light purple flowers than the exotic S. urticifolia
-Has shorter, thicker flower stalks than the exotic S. urticifolia

These are the key differences between the two species.

I originally bought the exotic S. urticifolia and planted a few plants. They looked nice at first, and continued to get flowers; however, they grew quickly, and after a while started to look lanky. Gradually, growth became less attractive, and leaves started to get black spots/blotches of mold on them. I removed the plants and planted native Cocoplum shrubs (Chrysobalanus icaco); however, seedlings from the removed S. urticifolia shrubs kept popping up! They reseed plentifully.

Also, S. urticifolia is now listed as a Category Two Invasive by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council for central and southern Florida.

NOTE - I am giving this plant a neutral rating because it still has it's benefits and, especially if given lots of maintenance, can look really well.

Positive michaeladenner On Jun 4, 2005, michaeladenner from Deland, FL wrote:

A woody perennial here in Central Florida (zone 9a) -- mine is 4'X2.5', after a heavy prunning in February. Grows in partial sun (morning sun, 3 hours or so) and full sun. Low water needs, and I've never fertilized mine. Leaves are pinnate, serrated, pleasant dark green. Year-round flowers, although upper part of plant browns in cold weather. Blooms are tiny on sometimes very long (18") "rat tail" panicles. Self-sows fairly prolifically, but the seedlings are easy to identify, dig up, and transplant. Also very easy to propagate from cuttings. I can't say it's a stunning flower, but hummers and butterflies and bees all love it, and it's very low maintenance.

Positive mcgrawts On Feb 27, 2005, mcgrawts from Miami, FL wrote:

Definitely attracts butterflies. My monarch caterpillars like to form their pupas under the leaves. Very, very pretty plant.

Positive CostaRica On Dec 6, 2004, CostaRica from Guayabo de Bagaces, Guanacaste
Costa Rica (Zone 10b) wrote:

One of the most prolific flowering shrubs here in Costa Rica
How anyone could think it 'weedy looking' I would disagree with! Both butterflies and hummingbirds abound! Very often grown a a hedge.

Positive IslandJim On Nov 7, 2004, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is one of premier butterfly plants in southwest Florida. It is kind of weedy looking, however, so you may not want it anywhere except in a butterfly garden.

Positive jameso On Nov 1, 2004, jameso from Longview, TX wrote:

I have all kinds of salvia's sages and other hummingbird plants but the porterweed seems to be the most popular with hummingbirds in my East Texas garden.

Positive bleu On Aug 4, 2002, bleu wrote:

The dark blue porterweed (Stachytarpheta cayennensis) is a great addition to any butterfly plant. This plant can seed a little too freely so give it lots of elbow room.

There is a pink variety of this plant which can grow rapidly to 12' and puts out quite a show. The soft wood can get wind whipped and break off in storms very easily but it quickly grows back again.

Regional...

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

,
Bartow, Florida
Big Pine Key, Florida
Bradenton, Florida
Brandon, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Cape Coral, Florida (2 reports)
Englewood, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Gainesville, Florida
Gulf Breeze, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Homosassa, Florida
Hudson, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida (2 reports)
Keystone Heights, Florida
Lake Butler, Florida
Lake Worth, Florida
Largo, Florida
Longboat Key, Florida
Longwood, Florida
Lutz, Florida
Miami, Florida
Palm Coast, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida (3 reports)
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Sarasota, Florida (2 reports)
Sebring, Florida
Titusville, Florida
Trenton, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida (2 reports)
Winter Springs, Florida
Zephyrhills, Florida
Kihei, Hawaii
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Covington, Louisiana
Gonzales, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Memphis, Tennessee
Austin, Texas
Conroe, Texas
Dickinson, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Grapeland, Texas
Liberty, Texas
Longview, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Spring, Texas



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