Germander Speedwell - Veronica chamaedris - Western Isles Wildflowers

Germander Speedwell - Blue Mauve Western Isles Wildflowers

Germander Speedwell


These lovely blue wildflowers seen in the Hebrides are very pretty. There are 6 types of Speedwell that grow in The Western Isles, you can identify the Germander Speedwell by its leaves and the stem which has hairs on opposite sides of the stem

Blue to Mauve Flowers
The lovely blue sometimes almost mauve wildflowers of the Germander Speedwell were spotted on the Castle Grounds at Stornoway. This plant belongs to the Scophulariaceae family. It is a perennial that flowers here from late March to August and likes grassland,field edges, hedges and roadsides.

The leaves will help to distinguish it apart from the other species. The leaves are opposite, both on the lower and upper parts of the stem. The leaves, arranged in pairs alternating one with another. The germander speedwell leaves are notched and rough and hairy


Common Names
Cats Eye., Birds Eye Speedwell, Blue, Strike Fires, Mammy Die. The Welsh people also call it "the eye of Christ" as they were touched by the purity of the blue with the central white "eye". The people of Devon had this sentiment and called it "Angels Eyes"
Click pictures below for larger photographs

Ground Runners of The Germander Speedwell
Germander Speedwell spreads by both underground and over ground runners. It can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, but prefers damp conditions.

The flowers are a lovely blue colour with darker veins and the central white eye. The germander speedwell is one of those plants which close at night and open in the morning. The flowers are about 1 cm diameter.

The flowers are 4-lobed with the smallest lobe being lowest, have white centres, have two stamens and are borne on slender stalks in loose racemes.


Flower Colour Changes
Flower Colour Changes and the Flower Opens and Closes

In the evening as the sun goes down you will see it actually get paler, opening in the morning light to reveal the brilliant shade of blue.


The stem is weak and creeping at the bottom, being stronger as it reaches higher. It reaches up to a foot high and carries the lovely blue flowers. The stem has two lines of hairs on opposite sides of the stem, these of course serve to ward off crawling insects. (the other species of speedwell growing here don't have these hairs on both sides of the stems)
Germander Speedwell - Stornoway

Medicinal Uses of the Germander Speedwell Plant
Many medicinal uses have been documented for this plant, created by uses it in various forms and infusions. It is used in tea infusions. It is said to be a remedy for all manner of ailments, from cramp, to ulcers, to eye conditions. for smallpox and to cleanse the blood. Germander Speedwell is said to be used to reduce fevers


Ladies Fertility Emblem
It is said that the white centre of the flower, which can be clearly seen in the middle of the vivid blue flower, was actually the sign of the holy handkerchief, (partly down to the Saint Veronica legend ) and hence the flower was sacred to and named after Saint Veronica.

Germander Speedwell - Blue Wildflowers

Name Derivation - Saint Veronica Legend
The scientific name of Speedwell (Veronica) dates back some 500 years. It is linked to the lady Veronica who is believed to have wiped the sweat off the face of Jesus when he was on route to Calvary. The markings that were left on the cloth apparently were very similar to those of the lovely blue flowers and therefore they were named Veronica Speedwell.. The plant therefore was so named as a tribute to Veronica.

Pilgrim Fathers - Mayflower
The the 1600's a ship called The Speedwell set out for North America, it was sailing alongside the famous Mayflower ship which had aboard it "The Pilgrim Fathers". Unfortunately the Speedwell wa leaking and so the ships went back. Again they set out after the speedwell being repaired, but once again it started leaking and they had to turn back. After further investigation it transpired that the crew on the Speedwell were responsible, they sabotaged the ship as they didn't want to be away from home as long as it would take to get to North America

Western Isles Wildflowers - Speedwell

There are many, many different types of speedwell. From my research I find that about six types of speedwell seen here on the Western Isles ( I shall endeavour to acquire photos of them all over time) Here is a short list of the six types of speedwell


a) Germander Speedwell

These lovely blue sometimes almost mauve wildflowers were spotted on the Castle Grounds at Stornoway. This plant belongs to the Scophulariaceae family. It is a perennial that flowers here from late March to August and likes grassland,field edges,hedges and roadsides. The leaves will help to distinguish it apart from the other species.


b)Thyme-Leaved Speedwell
This speedwell has creeping stems. The flowers are a pale blue sometimes almost white with darker blue lines or veins on them. THis plant loves moist damp places


c) Blue Water Speedwell
This speedwell, as the name suggests likes damp places, often near water , it is a plant native to the Western Isles. It has erect spikes of the pale blue flowers and opposite stalk less leaves, the plant is nearly hairless, unlike that of the Germander Speedwell which has hairs on both sides of the stem

d) Wall Speedwell

This lovely speedwell, has small blue flowers with white centres. The flowers are on short stalks and are a brighter blue than those of the other types of speedwell.


e) Heath Speedwell
Sometimes called common speedwell, it has hairy stems that crawl along the ground. It likes grassland, and slightly acidic soil. The stem leaves are in pairs at opposite sides of the stem. The leaves are long and slim, unlike those of the germander speedwell. The flowers are an irregular shape and are violet coloured.

f) Brooklime
This plant is a member of the speedwell family. It has blunt toothed fleshy oval leaves, (somewhat different to the leaves of the other 5 species seen here), opposite and short stalked, it likes very moist places, often growing by streams. It is a plant native to the Western Isles

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