FIGWORT FAMILY - ScrophulariaceaŽ: American Brooklime

Veronica americana

Flowers--Light blue to white, usually striped with deep blue or purple; structure of flower similar to that of V. officinalis, but borne in long, loose racemes branching outward on stems that spring from axils of most of the leaves. Stem: Without hairs, usually branched, 6 in. to 3 ft. long, lying partly on ground and rooting from lower joints. Leaves: Oblong, lance-shaped, saw-edged, opposite, petioled, and lacking hairs; 1 to 3 in. long, 1/4 to 1 in. wide. Fruit: A nearly round, compressed, but not flat, capsule with flat seeds in 2 cells.

Preferred Habitat--In brooks, ponds, ditches, swamps.

Flowering Season--April-September.

Distribution--From Atlantic to Pacific, Alaska to California and New Mexico, Quebec to Pennsylvania.

This, the perhaps most beautiful native speedwell, whose sheets of blue along the brookside are so frequently mistaken for masses of forget-me-nots by the hasty observer, of course shows marked differences on closer investigation; its tiny blue flowers are marked with purple pathfinders, and the plant is not hairy, to mention only two. But the poets of England are responsible for most of whatever confusion still lurks in the popular mind concerning these two flowers. Speedwell, a common medieval benediction from a friend, equivalent to our farewell or adieu, and forget-me-not of similar intent, have been used interchangeably by some writers in connection with parting gifts of small blue flowers. It was the germander speedwell that in literature and botanies alike was most commonly known as the forget-me-not for more than two hundred years, or until only fifty years ago. When the Mayflower and her sister ships were launched, "Speedwell" was considered a happier name for a vessel than it proved to be.