There’s no need to make a trek to the woodlands to see spring flowers emerging! Blossoms are popping out all over, including lawn weeds like this beautiful little Veronica growing just outside the chapel here on campus.
Veronicas are also called Speedwells, and we can find several species on campus lawns. They all have four petals – three similar ones and a fourth, smaller, on the bottom. Naturalist John Burroughs was certainly a fan. In describing a visit to England, he called the speedwell “the prettiest of all humble roadside flowers I saw … It is prettier than the violet … a small and delicate edition of our hepatica, done in indigo blue and wonted to the grass and fields and by the waysides…”
As the name implies, the plant was used to treat multiple diseases, particularly skin ailments. A tea can be made from the leaves, although it is said to be somewhat astringent. Veronica’s main pollinators are bees, but the plant is capable of self-pollinating, and it is spreads vegetatively. Jack Sanders in The Secrets of Wildflowers suggests that a lawn with these flowers scattered throughout is much more appealing and beautiful that acres of monotonous green grass. I’m pleased to see that our campus groundskeepers must feel the same way!