Exploring my little piece of the planet

Alpine Speedwell

Veronica alpina or Veronica wormskjoldii  – (I cannot confirm…see Pan-Arctic Flora for more confusion)
Also called American Alpine Speedwell and Alpine Veronica

Poking through tangled grasses and horsetails in the marshy ravine bottom, the tiny blue flowers catch the eye as they gather the blue of the sky to their four-parted corollas. The little cluster sits on the end of the stem like the coloured bead on the head of some of my dressmakers pins that have been bent and warped by my inept use on denim alterations. The delicate flower cluster seems out of proportion to the lanky and hairy stem with its well-spaced lance-shaped pairs of leaves.

Alpine Speedwell is not listed in my favourite plant book and I’ve had a hard time confirming the species. Superficially similar to another Veronica, American Brooklime, it distinguishes itself by its terminal flower cluster and stem-clasping leaves.

I have exhausted sources trying to specify this little plant’s exact identity but am leaning towards Veronica alpina subsp. pumila because of this qualifier:

“The differences between subsp. pumila and subsp. alpina are small but constant in stem usually flexuous vs. straight, upper internodes densely hairy with long (multicellular) hairs vs. sparsely hairy with minute hairs…” (source)

Online sources vary greatly in the species’ range and even its habitat. As well, apart from the comparison above, I have not found good botanical descriptions. As always, I welcome the input of any reader that can help me with this mystery.

Please see the post on a cousin, American Brooklime for details on the edibility and medicinal qualities of the this genus.

Other Selected Sources:
Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Centre

DemsterCountry Flora
USDA Plant Profile

6 responses

  1. Pingback: American Brooklime « The Nature of the Hills

  2. Compared to the American Brooklime, this variety’s flowers are closely packed at the end of the stem. Will they eventually all bloom out to produce a pom-pom shape our just continue to bloom and fade as they go up to the center of the cluster?
    So glad you had time to get out and get into the wild! ~ Lynda

    August 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    • The latter, I think, Lynda. I’m sure if someone ever decided to domesticate them they would manipulate them to create the pompom shape, but Nature, as we know, has her own agenda. Thanks so much for your comments.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:22 pm

  3. No help here Cindy. I love your description about the coloured-bead on the head of a dressmaker’s pin.

    August 2, 2012 at 6:41 am

    • Thank you Sybil, Thanks what it put me in mind of, the many pins I’ve had to discard in my ill-fated attempts at sewing. 🙂

      August 2, 2012 at 4:00 pm

  4. Pingback: Veronica chamaedrys | Find Me A Cure

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