Eye-catching blue flowers
Blue is a colour that stands out in the wild, so I find Speedwells easy to spot when I’m out and about.
There are various common speedwell wildflowers in the UK, there’s even one growing as a weed in my garden!
Ivy-leaved speedwell – Veronica hederifolia
This scraggy little weed in my garden benefits from magnification. The little pale blue flowers are only about 2mm across. It was easy to identify because of the small size of the flowers and their pale colour, horizontal nature, hairiness and ivy-shaped leaves.
Germander speedwell – Veronica chamaedrys
This plant is ubiquitous round here in May. The clear royal blue flowers are about 1cm across and appear on an upright spike. The whole plant is about 20cm high in lush growth, although I’ve seen it much shorter in exposed areas.
Common field speedwell – Veronica persica
Veronica persica is brighter green and upright with no flower spike. The small flowers (up to 1cm) are royal blue with a white lower lip and are slightly wider than they are high. The long stalks of the individual flowers come out from the leaf axils (where the leaf joins the stem). These pics were taken on my visit to Rye Harbour nature reserve.
Heath speedwell – Veronica officinalis
This pale blue spiked flower was about 15 to 20cm tall and is also known as Common speedwell. The leaves were a different shape from the species above, being oval, hairy and shallowly toothed. They were up to about 2cm across and 5cm long. I found it growing in the heath at Kirkby Moor in Lincolnshire.
I found it again on the same trip growing amongst Bedstraw in chalk grassland in Derbyshire.
Galls are caused by midge infestation, primarily on Veronica chamaedrys. The visual effect is the balling of the growing tip and white hairs.
Another Speedwell shown in the two pics below was growing very close to the Veronica persica I spotted at Rye Harbour. The photos are not very good but the first one shows the flower and the second one the leaves. It was much hairier than the Veronica persica and had no white on the flower.
There are quite a few speedwells I have yet to encounter!
Or here is a more compact Speedwell guide from BSBI