Common Speedwell

Veronica officinalis L.

Other common names: Paul's betony, ground-hele, fluellin, upland speedwell.

Habitat and range: This little herb frequents dry fields and woods from Nova Scotia to Michigan and south to North Carolina and Tennessee. It also occurs in Europe and Asia.

Description: The common speedwell creeps over the ground by means of rather woody stems rooting at the joints and sends up branches from 3 to 10 inches in height. It is hairy all over. The leaves are opposite to each other on the stem, on short stalks, grayish green and soft hairy, oblong or oval in shape, and about one-half to an inch in length; they are blunt at the apex, with margins saw toothed and narrowing into the stalks. From about May to July the elongated, narrow, spikelike flower clusters are produced from the leaf axils, crowded with small, pale-blue flowers. The capsule is obovate, triangular, and compressed, and contains numerous flat seeds.

The speedwell is a perennial belonging to the figwort family (Scrophulariaceae).

Collection, prices, and uses: The leaves and flowering tops, which bring about 3 to 5 cents a pound, should be collected about May or June. When fresh they have a faint, agreeable odor, which is lacking when dry. The taste is bitter and aromatic and somewhat astringent.

Speedwell has been used for asthmatic troubles and coughs and also for its alterative, tonic, and diuretic properties.

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