Big Bracht Verbena and chickens

Chickens in run

A chicken run is one tough place for plants to live, and our run at Winding Pathways is even tougher than most.

Every day we let our chickens roam around the run. A bright baking sun broils the sandy soil all day long, so it’s hard to imagine that any plant can thrive there. And, chicken run plants face another challenge. The birds love greenery and usually devour every plant they find. As a result, most chicken runs are just bare dirt that’s either dusty or muddy.

 

 

flowers of Big Bracht Verbena

Flower and leaf

Big Bracht Verbena (Verbena bracteata), sometimes called Prostrate Vervain, is up to the challenge. It carpets our chicken run.  We didn’t plant it.  Verbena moved in on its own.  Hopefully, our chickens enjoy viewing the plants’ tiny soft blue flowers.

 

 

Big Bracht Verbena is common across much of North America, but it’s easy to overlook.  Rarely causing problems, it lives in the most difficult environments. The plant thrives in hot dry gravel soil along roads, in vacant lots, and in sidewalk cracks.

We like having this humble plant in our chicken run. It covers the soil, eliminating mud that follows rain. Chickens absolutely won’t eat it, but they love snatching the insects lured to the plant. It needs no human care, but we sometimes mow it if it gets a big shaggy by late summer.

Big Bracht Verbena and chickens

Foraging among verbena

One of nature’s mysteries is how plants have adapted to thrive in all sorts of environments, even harsh ones. Hats off to Big Bracht Verbena.

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