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.