Veronica officinalis (Common Speedwell)
|Also known as:||Common Gypsyweed, Health Speedwell|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; moist to dry disturbed soil; woodland clearings, trail edges, fields, rock outcrops|
|Bloom season:||June - August|
|Plant height:||4 to 12 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: UPL MW: UPL NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Elongating spike-like racemes of stalked flowers, arising from upper leaf axils and blooming from the bottom of the cluster up. Flowers are short-tubular, ¼ to about 1/3 inch across with four rounded lobes, the upper 3 about the same size and the lower distinctly narrower. Color is pale blue, violet or pinkish-purple streaked with darker purplish lines. A slender style and 2 long white stamens project from the throat. The calyx surrounding the flower has 4 oblong-elliptic lobes about half as long as the petals. A narrow, leaf-like bract is attached at the base of the short flower stalk. The calyx, bracts and stalks are all glandular-hairy.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are opposite, ½ to 2 inches long, hairy on both surfaces, toothed around the edges, oval-elliptic to egg-shaped, blunt to rounded at the tip, and tapering at the base to a short, hairy stalk. Stems are hairy, branched, mostly prostrate, rooting at the nodes forming dense mats with the flowering spikes erect to ascending and rising above the leaves.
Common Speedwell is an introduction native to parts of Europe and Asia. with a long history of medicinal uses from colds to gall stones. While the national distribution map indicates it is native to the US, though adventive, it is possibly only considered native in Greenland and not the rest of North America, though even that is questionable (did the Vikings introduce it there, too?). In either case, it escaped cultivation and is occasionally found naturalized in Minnesota, but, like many weeds, is very likely under-reported in the state. While the 4-parted flowers and heart-shaped fruits are like other Veronica species, the hairy stems and leaves up to 2 inches long, mat-forming growth with more erect spike-like clusters, and flowers up to 1/3 diameter distinguish it from the others. Also, the flowering parts are glandular while the leaves and stems are generally not.
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Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Houston County and in a private garden in Ramsey County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?