Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Stachytarpheta urticifolia Sims

Frost tender, coarse biennial herb or sub-shrub with slender, weak branches, elliptic leaves, and upright, tail-like inflorescences, to 40cm, of indigo to dark purple flowers with a central white mouth.  To 2m.  [RHSD].

Horticultural & Botanical History

Date of introduction unknown, but before 1806 as Salisbury described it in Paradisus Londinensis under the name Cymburus urticaefolius. ‘Although we consider this to be the same species as is figured in the Paradisus Londinensis, under the name of Cymburus urticaefolius, yet we believe it to be quite distinct from Stachytarpheta jamaicensis, supposed by Mr. Salisbury to be the same.  It is of taller growth, its stalks are far less hairy, the leaves less succulent, sharper pointed and more acutely sawed, with the seratures continued to the base of the leaf.  In  jamaicensis the leaves are more succulent, broader towards the apex, and quite entire at the lower part; teeth more distant and blunter; it is also less erect in its growth, and has shorter spikes.  In our plant the bractes are rather subulate than ovate, with a membranous border at the base only; they are shorter than the calyx, to which they are closely adpressed their whole length.  The calyxes are imbedded in a deep groove in the peduncle: the outer teeth of the calyx are larger than the inner, which they entirely conceal.  It has two fertile stamens; and we could not detect any sterile filaments.  Communicated by John Walker, Esq. who sent it under the name of Verbena violacea.  Flowers in the stove most part of the year.  Propagated by cuttings.  We are not certain of what country it is a native.’  [BM t.1848/1816].

History at Camden Park

Only listed in the 1857 catalogue [T.957/1857] although first mentioned in a handwritten note in an 1850 catalogue held at the Mitchell Library.  [ML A2947a].


Stachytarpheta urticifolia Dalzell & Gibs. (1861) = S. indica Vahl. synonym S. jamaicensis L., a woody annual species from the West Indies.

Published Feb 16, 2010 - 08:54 PM | Last updated Feb 16, 2010 - 09:00 PM

Figured are ovate, toothed leaves and spike of blue flowers with white centres.  Curtis' Botanical Magazine t.1848, 1816.

Stachytarpheta urticifolia Sims. | BM t.1848/1816 | BHL

Family Verbenaceae
Region of origin

South east Asia, Pacific Islands

  • Stachytarpheta dichotoma Vahl.  
  • Stachtarpheta jamaicensis Gardn.  
  • Cymburus urticaefolius Salisb.  
Common Name

Blue rats tail, Smokeweed

Name in the Camden Park Record

Stachytarpheta urticifolia 

Confidence level high