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American Speedwell

Veronica peregrina

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Veronicaceae (Speedwell)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Gardens, parks, riverbanks, riversides, roadsides, wasteland, waterside.

Pink, 4 petals
The inflorescence is a lax flower spike. Flowers are pale lilac, short stalked and with lance-shaped bracts. The petals are oval or rounded. 4 green sepals.
The fruit is heart-shaped and shorter than the green sepals.
The leaves are variable in shape from spoon-shaped to lance-shaped with a blunt tip. Usually American Speedwell is hairless and toothed but not always. Annual or biennial.
Other Names:
Bird's-eye Speedwell, Hairy Purslane Speedwell, Necklace Weed, Neckweed, Purslane Speedwell.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Veronica peregrina is a species of flowering plant in the plantain family Plantaginaceae. It is also known as bird's-eye speedwell, and it is native to Europe and Asia. The plant is a low-growing perennial with creeping, woody stems that can root at the nodes. It has small, bluish-purple or white flowers that are borne in clusters on spikes. The leaves are opposite, simple, and ovate. It is often found growing in disturbed areas, such as along roadsides and in waste places, and is considered an invasive weed in some areas. It can also be found in dry, rocky or sandy areas and coastal dunes. It is used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, and also used as ornamental plant in gardens.


American Speedwell, also known by its scientific name Veronica peregrina, is a small, delicate plant that is native to North America. It belongs to the family Plantaginaceae, which includes over 250 species of herbs, shrubs, and small trees. The plant is commonly found in open, sunny areas such as fields, meadows, and roadsides, and is known for its beautiful, blue flowers that bloom from spring to fall.


American Speedwell is a small, herbaceous annual or biennial plant that typically grows to a height of 5-30 cm. Its leaves are opposite, simple, and ovate or oblong in shape, with a toothed margin. The flowers of American Speedwell are small, blue or purplish-blue in color, and have four petals that form a tube-like shape. They are arranged in dense, spike-like clusters at the top of the stem, and bloom from April to October.

Habitat and Distribution

American Speedwell is native to North America and can be found in most of the continental United States, as well as in parts of Canada and Mexico. The plant prefers open, sunny areas with well-drained soil, and can often be found in fields, meadows, roadsides, and other disturbed areas. It is also commonly found in urban environments, such as parks and along roadsides.

Uses and Benefits

American Speedwell has been used in traditional medicine for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It is believed to be effective in treating a range of health conditions, including respiratory infections, digestive issues, and skin problems. The plant has also been used to treat wounds and injuries, and is sometimes applied topically to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

In addition to its medicinal uses, American Speedwell has also been used for culinary purposes. The leaves of the plant can be eaten raw or cooked, and are said to have a slightly bitter taste. They can be used as a salad green, or cooked like spinach. The flowers of American Speedwell are also edible and can be used to decorate salads or desserts.

Conservation Status

American Speedwell is not considered a threatened or endangered species, but like many other native plants, it is facing pressure from habitat loss and degradation. The plant is often found in areas that are disturbed by human activity, such as roadsides and agricultural fields, and may be negatively impacted by development and other land-use changes.

American Speedwell is a small but beautiful plant that is native to North America. It has a range of traditional medicinal and culinary uses, and is an important part of the ecosystem in which it grows. However, like many other native plants, it is facing threats from habitat loss and degradation, and it is important that we work to protect and conserve this and other important species for future generations.


American Speedwell can be propagated by seed or by cuttings. Seeds can be collected in the fall and planted directly in the ground or in containers. Cuttings can be taken from the plant in the spring or early summer and rooted in moist soil. Once established, American Speedwell is a self-seeding annual or biennial plant that will readily reseed itself in the garden.

Garden Uses

American Speedwell is a popular garden plant that is valued for its beautiful blue flowers and low-maintenance requirements. It is often used in wildflower gardens, rock gardens, and as a ground cover in sunny areas. The plant can be grown in containers or planted directly in the ground, and is an attractive addition to any garden.

Pollinator Support

American Speedwell is an important source of nectar for pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The flowers of the plant are rich in nectar and are attractive to a variety of pollinators. By planting American Speedwell in the garden, gardeners can help support pollinator populations and contribute to the overall health of the ecosystem.

Potential Risks

While American Speedwell is generally considered safe and non-toxic, it is important to note that some people may be allergic to the plant. As with any plant, it is recommended to wear gloves when handling American Speedwell, especially if you have sensitive skin or a known allergy to the plant.

American Speedwell is a beautiful and versatile plant that is an important part of the North American ecosystem. It has a range of traditional medicinal and culinary uses, and is a valuable addition to any garden. By protecting and conserving this and other important native plants, we can help support pollinator populations, preserve biodiversity, and contribute to the overall health of the planet.

More Information about American Speedwell

Here are a few interesting facts:

  • The common name "Speedwell" comes from the Old English word "sperevella" which means "spike of flowers".
  • American Speedwell is also known as Neckweed, Purslane Speedwell, and Peregrine Speedwell.
  • In traditional medicine, American Speedwell has been used as a diuretic and as a treatment for urinary tract infections.
  • The plant was historically used by Native Americans to treat a range of ailments, including headaches, fever, and toothache.
  • American Speedwell has been used as a natural dye, with the plant yielding a blue or green dye when boiled in water.
  • The plant has a long history of use in European herbal medicine, and was often used to treat respiratory infections and digestive issues.

Cultural Significance

American Speedwell has been celebrated in literature and art for its delicate beauty and significance as a wildflower. It has been referenced in poems by writers such as Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost, and has been the subject of paintings by artists such as Maria Sibylla Merian and John James Audubon. Its blue flowers have been used as a symbol of spring and new beginnings, and have been associated with the renewal of the natural world.

Overall, American Speedwell is a fascinating and beautiful plant with a rich history and a range of practical and cultural uses. Whether you are interested in its medicinal properties, its culinary uses, or simply its beauty in the garden, there is much to appreciate and admire about this lovely native plant.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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