Speedwell, Common, Veronica officinalis

Life Cycle

Perennial.

Propagation

Reproducing by seed and spreading rhizomes.

Stems

Stems hairy, more or less horizontal from nodes, growing upwards, much-branched, rooting at the nodes and often forming densely matted patches with short, erect branches.

Leaves

Leaves opposite (2 per node), (a) elliptic, up to 5 cm long, finely toothed (Fig 5), somewhat rough-hairy on both surfaces; towards the ends of the stems the axils of these opposite leaves (b) bear flowers.

Flowers and Fruit

Flowers positioned towards the end of the stems on the axils of leaves (Fig 4). Short, slender, dense, erect spikes (c) of light blue flowers; corolla 4-8 mm across; seedpods (d) small, flat, broadly heart-shaped (Fig 2), about 4 mm across, resembling those of Pursane speedwell. Flowers from May to July.

Roots and Underground Structures

Spreading rhizomes.

Habitat

Common speedwell grows throughout Ontario in pastures, meadows, open woodlots, waste areas and occasionally lawns and cultivated fields.

Distinguishing Features

It is distinguished by its densely matted habit of growth (Fig 6), its coarse stems with large, rough-hairy, opposite leaves, its short spikes (b) of dense, bright blue flowers arising from axils of opposite leaves (Fig 3,4), and by the absence of flower-bearing alternate leaves towards the ends of the main stems, a feature that is characteristic of most other Speedwells.


Figure #1.

Common speedwell.


Figure #2.

Broadly heart-shaped seedpods of Common speedwell.


Figure #3.

Stem with seedpods and flowers, June in Southern Ontario.


Figure #4.

Stem with light blue flowers.


Figure #5.

Elliptic, finely toothed and hairy leaf of Common speedwell.


Figure #6.

Common speedwell covering a lawn.