Veronica (plant)

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Veronica chamaedrys - Külmamailane.jpg
Veronica chamaedrys
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Plantaginaceae
Genus: Veronica
Type species
Veronica officinalis
L., 1753

See text.

Veronica is the largest genus in the flowering plant family Plantaginaceae, with about 500 species; it was formerly classified in the family Scrophulariaceae. Taxonomy for this genus is currently being reanalysed, with the genus Hebe and the related Australasian genera Derwentia, Detzneria, Chionohebe, Heliohebe, Leonohebe and Parahebe included by many botanists. Common names include speedwell, bird's eye, and gypsyweed.

The species are herbaceous annuals or perennials, and also shrubs or small trees if Hebe is included. Most of the species are from the temperate Northern Hemisphere, though with some species from the Southern Hemisphere; Hebe is mostly from New Zealand.


The genus name Veronica used in binomial nomenclature was chosen by Carl Linnaeus based on preexisting common usage of the name veronica in many European languages for plants in this group. Such use in English is attested as early as 1572.[1] The name probably reflects a connection with Saint Veronica, whose Latin name is ultimately derived from Greek, Berenice.[2]


Food and medicine[edit]

Veronica americana is edible and nutritious and is reported to have a flavor similar to watercress. Native Americans used Veronica species as an expectorant tea to alleviate bronchial congestion associated with asthma and allergies. The plant can be confused with skullcap and other members of the mint family. Members of the mint family have square sided stems, and Veronica species have rounded stems.[3]

Veronica sp. herb has been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally (as tea) for treatment of disorders of the nervous system, respiratory tract, cardiovascular system, and metabolism.[4]


Several Veronica species and cultivars are cultivated for use as groundcovers.[5]

As weeds[edit]

Several species of speedwell are weeds that outcompete lawn grasses.[6] Some of the more common of these are Persian speedwell (V. persica),[7] creeping speedwell (Veronica filiformis),[8] corn speedwell (V. arvensis),[9] germander speedwell (V. chamaedrys), and ivy-leaved speedwell (V. hederifolia). It is often difficult to tell one species from another. There are five to seven species of speedwell in Michigan alone that are easily confused.[8]

The resilient[clarification needed] speedwell species have a fine, fibrous root system and bright green roundish, oval, or heart-shaped leaves with scalloped edges. The leaves are often small, with some under 1/4 inch long, the flowers are typically also small and are blue or bluish-white in color. In all the plant species but one,[which?] the leaves are alternate near the end of flowering stems, but the leaves are opposite near the base.[10]


Species of Veronica are used as food plants by the larvae of some species of Lepidoptera, including the Grizzled Skipper.


A stylized speedwell is featured on the badge of Squadron 541 of the British Royal Air Force.[11]

In Italy they are colloquially referred to as "occhi della Madonna" (St. Mary's eyes).




  1. ^ "veronica", Oxford English Dictionary, online edition.
  2. ^ Ernest Klein, A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the English Language. Elsevier 1967
  3. ^ Tilford, G. L. Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West. ISBN 0-87842-359-1[page needed]
  4. ^ Vogl, Sylvia; Picker, Paolo; Mihaly-Bison, Judit; Fakhrudin, Nanang; Atanasov, Atanas G.; Heiss, Elke H.; Wawrosch, Christoph; Reznicek, Gottfried; Dirsch, Verena M.; Saukel, Johannes; Kopp, Brigitte (2013). "Ethnopharmacological in vitro studies on Austria's folk medicine—An unexplored lore in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 149 (3): 750–71. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.06.007. PMC 3791396. PMID 23770053. 
  5. ^ Klett, J. E. and R. A. Cox. Ground Cover Plants. Fact Sheet no. 7.400. Colorado State University Extension. 2009.
  6. ^ Corn Speedwell. TurfFiles.
  7. ^ Persian speedwell. Weed Gallery. U.C. Davis.
  8. ^ a b Creeping Speedwell. MSU Turf Weeds. Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Michigan State University.
  9. ^ Corn Speedwell. MSU Turf Weeds. Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Michigan State University.
  10. ^ Yelverton, F. Speedwell, Corn. North Carolina State University. 2007.
  11. ^ 541 Squadron. Royal Air Force.
  12. ^ Gibson, E. Rare plant in forest has botanists bamboozled. New Zealand Herald. 10 November 2009.

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