Wood Speedwell - Veronica montana, click for a larger image
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Wood Speedwell - Veronica montana, click for a larger image

Wood Speedwell - Veronica montana
Family - Plantaginaceae

Wood Speedwell is a delicate prostrate sprawling grassland perennial of damp woodlands, field boundaries, scrub and shaded hedge banks, it is widespread and common throughout the UK except for the far north, equally at home on heavy clay or loamy soils.  Long oval dark green hairy leaves to 25mm (1in) long are deeply toothed in opposite pairs on prostrate hairy stems with few branches, which will root at the nodes.  The leaves are superficially similar in pattern to those of various Stinging Nettles but are more oval and much smaller.  The white centred violet or lilac flowers are 7-9mm (0.3-0.4in) across, consist of four petals with with 7-9 dark purple streaks on hairy stems, two stamens with purplish anthers.  It flowers from April to July.  Also found in Europe where in Italy it is colloquially referred to as "occhi della Madonna"", St. Mary's eyes, it is an introduced alien species in North America and a few other countries.

FBCP do not advise or recommend that Wood Speedwell - Veronica montana is eaten or used as an herbal remedy.    Leaves of Wood Speedwell have been used in the past a a tea for bronchial conditions and asthma and cardiovascular conditions, its common name of "Speedwell" may come from this medicinal usage.  

The flower is similar to that of Thyme-leaved Speedwell - V. serpyllifolia, but the leaves of this plant are much smaller, heart shaped, smooth and without the notched edges, the flowers are also much paler almost white.  Brooklime - V. beccabunga also has very similar dark blue white centred flowers to Wood Speedwell, but again the leaves show the difference being non hairy, smooth, oval with faintly almost absent notched edges on thick stems and flowers that are mainly blue.

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