Tiny purple flowers have just about taken over my whole yard. I have noticed them every spring and always associated them with a change in the climate from cold and snowy to warm and sunny. Give or take a few weeks. What I didn’t know was that they’re a forage plant with ancient origins.
They go by several names. Brookline, Gypsyweed, Birdseye and Speedwell. Overall, there’s over 500 varieties of this little flower. All are listed under the genus Veronica. I have chosen to refer to them as Speedwell.
Image Titled “Speedwell 32420b”.
As you can see by the oak leaf in the lower left foreground in Image “Speedwell 32420b” the plant is quite small but it’s also very plentiful. Almost as plentiful as the small white Chickweed that accompanies it. Everything that I’ve read about Speedwell makes mention of “several varieties” being used for one thing or another. In one culture it’s referred to as a weed another culture uses it for ground cover and in a mixture of both it’s revered as medicine. It is a living example of beauty being in the eye of the beholder.
In full disclosure, this is one of many plants that I have studied but never sampled. So as far as the flavor is concerned I’m taking other people’s word. And as one might expect, individual experiences seem to vary. But with 500 types of Speedwell it’s expected that different varieties would be more palatable than others. Some plants change their chemistry with stages of development and soil conditions so it’s likely that would effect flavors.
The species I believe that I have is Veronica americana. Which is said to have a flavor similar to watercress.
Speedwell seems to have a worldwide reputation as an expectorant. It does seem to emerge at the right time to be handy for use as a remedy for respiratory complaints. Some references say that it’s used to sooth the nervous system and just about all of them recommend that an ointment of Speedwell is good for skin problems.
Please remember that I’m not an expert on herbs and I’m definitely not a doctor. I’m just sharing what others have said. Further research is recommended.
The preferred time to gather Speedwell seems to when it’s in bloom. The most popular form of using it seems to be as a tea. The tea is said to be a little on the bitter side and is astringent. It’s probably the astringent qualities that make it useful topically for skin conditions.
The season is just about over by the time this article was written but I do want to try this one. If anyone has used Speedwell I’d love to hear about your experience. Please let me know in the comments.
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