Family composed of about 34 genera and about 1,035 herbaceous, subshrubby or shrubby species, distributed mostly in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of the Southern Hemisphere and to a lesser extent in the Northern Hemisphere. In North Africa it is represented by 5 genera. 3 of them (Verbena, Lippia and Priva) have only annual or perennial herbaceous species in North Africa, sometimes reaching up to 1 m in height but with the base of the stems only slightly lignified or not lignified at all, such as P. adhaerens (Forssk.) Chiov. and P. cordifolia (L.f.) Druce, found around the Red Sea (SE of Egypt and Sudan). The other 2 genera (Vitex and Lantana) are represented in this area by a single species each: V. agnus-castus, widely distributed throughout the Mediterranean region, and L. viburnoides, found in coastal and subcoastal regions of the Red sea, SE of Egypt and Sudan.

Another North African species of the Verbenaceae family with woody stems, at least at the base, is Chascanum marrubiifolium Fenzl ex Walp. [Bouchea marrubiifolia (Fenzl ex Walp.) Schauer], a perennial herb or subshrub up to 30-60 cm in height, erect, covered by a tomentum of white short hairs; simple, ovate-lanceolate leaves; inflorescence in long terminal racemes and yellowish-white flowers. It is found in the central and southern Sahara.

Key to genera

1 Perennial herbs with slightly lignified stems at the base. Simple leaves Chascanum

1 Shrubs. Palmately compound or simple leaves 2

2 Leaves palmately compound. Inflorescence in spikes of lax verticillasters Vitex

2 Leaves simple. Inflorescence in dense corymbiform spikes Lantana

Updated by: B. Valdés.