Veronica americana - American Speedwell

Family: Scrophulariaceae
Wetland Indictor Status: OBL

General Species Description

Perennial herb native to North America with stems that may be upright but often creep along ground where they may reach 80 cm long. Stems are succulent, smooth, hairless, generally weak and may sometimes be purplish.


Simple leaves are attached to the stem by short stalks in an opposite arrangement and are oblong to ovate with finely or coarsely toothed margins and sharp pointed tips. They are generally smooth except for cilia near the base of the leaf and may reach up to 0.5-8 cm long and 1.5-8 cm wide.


Groups of 6-30 light bluish violet flowers 4-10 mm across with white centers are found on long stalks 5-10 mm long originating from upper leaf axils. Closer inspection of the flowers will reveal 5 green sepals with whitish borders, 5 very tiny petals that may be absent and are much shorter than the sepals, and 10 stamens. A superior ovary with 3 styles is the norm. V. americana blooms from May to July.


Two lobed fruits with heart to round shape and many light brown seeds reaching 3-4 mm.


V. americana is commonly found in freshwater wetlands where the ground is moist and often inundated with one to four inches of water (ie. Marshes, ditches, along gravelly stream banks). It is often found along with other wetland species such as water-parsley (Oenanthe sarmentosa), many sedges and rushes.


V. americana is native to North America and a common plant in the western US up to Alaska. Within Northwestern Oregon it is found in the upper counties of the area (Clatsop, Columbia and Clark) down through and beyond Lane county in the south.

Similar Species

V. americana can be found along with other plant species that resemble it, but on closer inspection have many notable differences. Other creeping plants such as water-purslane (Ludwigia palustris) also have reddish succulent stems, but they tend to be erect, have long stemmed leaves with irregular shapes and an olive-red color. In addition, the flowers are bell shaped and attach directly to the stem. The reddish to purplish flowers of Watson willowherb are more similar to those of V. americana but tend to be deeply notched, and the stem is ridged vertically unlike that of Amercan speedwell. The two other species of Veronica, water veronica (V. anagallis-aquatica) and marsh speedwell (V. scutellata), while closely resembling V. americana, have leaves that lack stalks and are directly attached to the stem.

Ecological Value

V. americana helps bind soil to an area, especially along muddy banks where it commonly forms extensive mats.

Human Value



Guard, Jennifer. Wetland Plants of Oregon and Washington. 1994. Seattle Audubon Society. A Field Guide to the Common Wetland Plants of Western Washington & Northwestern Oregon. Seattle Audubon Society: Seattle, WA. 1997. US Dept of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. Western Wetland Flora Field Office Guide to Plant Species. Sacramento, CA. 1988.

This page was created by: Angeline Perla, August 1998

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