Index- plants in this Family
Scrophulariaceae / Figwort
Common Speedwell (Veronica officinalis)
Common Speedwell is also known as Common Gypsyweed which is the official vernacular..

Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a perennial. The hairy stem trails along the ground often forming dense mats. Formerly considered to have been introduced it may in fact be native.
Leaves: The leaf arrangement is opposite. Leaves can reach 5cm in length (2inches). Each elliptical leaf is toothed with a very short petiole or none.
Flowers: The flowers are irregular in shape and are up to 0.5cm wide (0.2 inches). They are violet or lavender. Blooms first appear in late spring and continue into mid summer. Close examination of the flowers reviles that they are light, sometimes almost white with darker markings. The are in erect racemes.
Habitat: Meadows, boarders and thin woods. Generally in the mountains.
Range: Only in the mountains in our area it is found from coast to coast in the very north of the U. S. and into Canada.

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The genus name Veronica likely comes from the early Christian Saint Veronica, that name coming from the term 'vera icon' meaning 'true image'. Veronica was thought to have given Jesus Christ a towel on which he wiped his face while on his way to Calvary where he was executed. The towel was said to have retained the image of the face of Christ. The legend has it that she traveled to Rome with the towel and other icons of the 'Blessed Virgin'. The towel became an important icon and was latter the subject of several religious paintings. The is no real documentation of any of this and the towel has been lost if indeed it ever existed. The 'officinalis' designation means that it was an 'official' medical plant.

Medical Uses: Native also to Europe the plant has long been used medicinally. The stems leaves and roots are used. Considered to be an astringent, expectorant and diuretic it was used to treat coughs, stomach and urinary disorders, rheumatism and as a general tonic. The Cherokee used it thusly and treated earache with the juice. Tannins, bitters, essential oil and the glycoside aucuboside along with vitamin C are responsible for the medical effects.

Similar Species: There are a great number of Veronica species found in this country both native and introduced. Many are similar to this species in some respects. See 'More Info' below for a partial list.

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More Info:  
The Search below may provide more information about this species. Some of URLs may have been used as a source for this page not otherwise cited. Most of the information not cited comes from multiple sources that can be found in the Books page. The USDA plant links are provided by: USDA, NRCS 1999. The PLANTS database ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. You can check species names at ITIS Advanced Search to see if they meet the current ITIS taxonomic criteria.

By: Newcomb, Lawrence and Illustrated by Morrison, Gordon. 1977, Little, Brown and Company, ISBN:0-316-60442-9

One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.

Wildflo wers of Tennessee the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians
By: Dennis Horn and Tavia Cathcart and Thomas E. Hemmerly and David Duhl. , ISBN:1551054280

This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.

Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves



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