Veronica officinalis (Common Speedwell)

Plant Info
Also known as: Common Gypsyweed, Health Speedwell
Family:Plantaginaceae (Plantain)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:Europe, Asia
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist to dry disturbed soil; woodland clearings, trail edges, fields, rock outcrops
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:4 to 12 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: UPL MW: UPL NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 4-petals Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: raceme Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] Elongating spike-like racemes of stalked flowers, arising from upper leaf axils and blooming from the bottom of the cluster up. Flowers are short-tubular, ¼ to about 1/3 inch across with four rounded lobes, the upper 3 about the same size and the lower distinctly narrower. Color is pale blue, violet or pinkish-purple streaked with darker purplish lines. A slender style and 2 long white stamens project from the throat. The calyx surrounding the flower has 4 oblong-elliptic lobes about half as long as the petals. A narrow, leaf-like bract is attached at the base of the short flower stalk. The calyx, bracts and stalks are all glandular-hairy.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are opposite, ½ to 2 inches long, hairy on both surfaces, toothed around the edges, oval-elliptic to egg-shaped, blunt to rounded at the tip, and tapering at the base to a short, hairy stalk. Stems are hairy, branched, mostly prostrate, rooting at the nodes forming dense mats with the flowering spikes erect to ascending and rising above the leaves.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a heart shaped capsule less than ¼ inch long and wide but longer than the persistent calyx, and covered in glandular hairs. Inside are several flattened seeds.


Common Speedwell is an introduction native to parts of Europe and Asia. with a long history of medicinal uses from colds to gall stones. While the national distribution map indicates it is native to the US, though adventive, it is possibly only considered native in Greenland and not the rest of North America, though even that is questionable (did the Vikings introduce it there, too?). In either case, it escaped cultivation and is occasionally found naturalized in Minnesota, but, like many weeds, is very likely under-reported in the state. While the 4-parted flowers and heart-shaped fruits are like other Veronica species, the hairy stems and leaves up to 2 inches long, mat-forming growth with more erect spike-like clusters, and flowers up to 1/3 diameter distinguish it from the others. Also, the flowering parts are glandular while the leaves and stems are generally not.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Spangle Creek Labs - Native orchids, lab propagated

More photos

Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Houston County and in a private garden in Ramsey County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Gary W - Duluth and near Ojibway Lake east of Ely.
on: 2017-06-04 21:57:34

In both locations the plant formed huge patches in the woods which were bordered by homes. I was able to see the Duluth throughout the year and noted the plants were semi-evergreen.

Posted by: MaryL - Rosemount, Dakota County
on: 2018-06-26 13:36:58

My neighbor just gave me 5 plants, said it will attract bees to our raspberry crop. I did not see it on the eradicate list. PLEASE advise, if I need to pull them out.

Posted by: Catherine Winter - Duluth
on: 2018-06-29 21:12:16

Saw several patches of this plant blooming in Hartley Park today.

Posted by: Sherrie Hood - Litner Point, Ely MN
on: 2020-06-08 22:51:51

SEEK app lists it as Heath Speedwell, but also Veronica officinalis. Have photos.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2020-06-09 07:53:57

Sherrie, there is no standardization on the use of common names. You can call this species whatever common name you like but the Latin name is the same.

Posted by: Anne Uehling - Ely
on: 2022-07-02 14:03:04

Just found a small patch in the woods by my house near Ely. Pretty little flowers. By a path where I walk and they have not been here in past years, well for the past two.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.