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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.
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.
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.
Several species of speedwell are weeds that outcompete lawn grasses. Some of the more common of these are Persian speedwell (V. persica), creeping speedwell (Veronica filiformis), corn speedwell (V. arvensis), 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.
The resilient 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, the leaves are alternate near the end of flowering stems, but the leaves are opposite near the base.
Veronica agrestis (green field-speedwell)
Veronica americana (American brooklime)
Veronica austriaca (Austrian speedwell)
Veronica beccabunga (brooklime)
Veronica chamaedrys (germander speedwell)
Veronica gentianoides (gentian speedwell)
Veronica officinalis (heath speedwell)
Veronica persica (bird's-eye)
Veronica serpyllifolia (thyme-leaved speedwell)
Veronica wormskjoldii (hairy speedwell)
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