The Emperor Charles the Fifth of Spain is said to have derived much relief to his gout from the use of this herb. It contains tannin, and a particular bitter principle.
"Although speedwell has a reputation,
especially in Europe, as a healer of all illnesses, it is used primarily as an
expectorant for respiratory problems. It has also been used for stomach
ailments, migraine headache, and as a gargle for mouth and throat soars, The
fresh juice taken in large quantities is helpful for gout, and it can also be
used externally to relieve chronic skin problems."
Habitat and Description
The Speedwells of my area are tiny yard weeds and also found in ditches in early spring. It may cover large areas of ground, but is inconspicuous due to its small stature. However, if you look close you will see a dainty medicinal beauty with either blue flowers, or white flowers striped with blue.
Speedwell flowers range from whitish blue with blue streaks to violet. They are small, crowded on spike-like racemes from axils of leaves, often from alternate axils. Calyx 4-parted; corolla of 4 lobes, lower lobe commonly narrowest ; 2 divergent stamens inserted at base and on either side of upper corolla lobe ; a knob-like stigma on solitary pistil. Stem: From 3 to 10 in. long, hairy, often prostrate, and rooting at joints. Leaves: Opposite, oblong, obtuse, saw-edged, narrowed at base. Ivy Leaf Speedwell is has three lobed leaves with fine hairs. Fruit: Compressed heart-shaped capsule, containing numerous flat seeds.
Distribution - From Michigan and Tennessee eastward, also from Ontario to Nova Scotia. Probably an immigrant from Europe and Asia.
How to Grow Speedwells
Speedwells are common yard weeds that can become invasive, and are often grown as ground cover. They thrive in poor damp soil. Most speedwells are annuals and grow easily from seeds from the previous year's flowers.
History and Folklore
The name speedwell comes from an old meaning of the word speed, "thrive." The scientific term Veronica goes back some 500 years and is apparently connected with the name of the legendary Veronica, who is said to have wiped the face of Jesus as He went to Calvary. It is possible that the genus Veronica was named after her because the flowers supposedly resemble the markings left on the cloth with which she wiped Jesus' face.
The Germans also name this plant Ehren-preis, or Prize of Honour; which fact favours the supposition of its being the true "Forget-me-not," or souveigne vous de moy, as legendary on knightly collars of yore to commemorate a famous joust fought in 1465 between the most accomplished champions of England and France.
Speedwell may be used for herbal tea. Use 1-2 tsp. of dried herb per cup of hot water. Speedwell can also be used in skin preparations such as lotions or herbal salves.
The Herb Book by John Lust
Wildflowers of Tennessee by Jack B. Carman
Indian Herbology of North America - Alma Hutchens Out of Print, used copies on Amazon.com
THE HERB HUNTERS GUIDE :AMERICAN MEDICINAL PLANTS OF COMMERCIAL IMPORTANCE
"Nature's Garden" also published as “Wild Flowers, An Aid to Knowledge of Our Wild Flowers and Their Insect Visitors” by Neltje Blanchan (Public Domain)
Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure by William Thomas Fernie (Public Domain)
Photos by Karen Bergeron Copyright
2002-2011 2007 Article Copyright 2011 by Karen Bergeron