Speedwell (Veronica) is a tough yet beautiful flowering plant that is grown around the world in challenging garden conditions. Tolerant of both drought and wet soil, it’s a potent symbol of enduring beauty and withstanding the toughest parts of life. It has a history of symbolic use dating back to Ancient Rome. Discover the deeper meaning of this blue to pink flower that’s also commonly known as bird’s eye.
- Speedwell Flower Meaning & Symbolism – the Essentials
- About Speedwell Flowers
- Speedwell Flower Meaning & Symbolism
- The Cultural Significance of Speedwell Flowers
- Suitable Gifting Occasions for Speedwell Flowers
- How to Care for Fresh Speedwell Flowers at Home
- Speedwell Flower FAQ:
- Petal Republic’s flower and plant guides:
Speedwell Flower Meaning & Symbolism – the Essentials
In the language of flowers, the beautiful flowering Speedwell carries the symbolic meaning of healing, recovery, and joyfulness. It’s a popular addition to many symbolic gardens, especially for those with a Christian faith theme. Its meaning as a healing herb dates back even further to Ancient Rome.
About Speedwell Flowers
As a common landscaping flower and naturalized wildflower, Speedwell is often thought of as just a colorful roadside bloom. But the common name actually refers to a genus with hundreds of different flowering plants in it.
The Speedwell Flower – Family, Genus, and Taxonomy
All flowers and plants referred to by the common name of Speedwell are part of the Veronica genus. Veronica includes over 500 different species, most of which are small plants or shrubs.
A few varieties native to Australia take the form of small trees instead. This genus is part of the larger Plantaginaceae family, which includes plantains and turtlehead flowers.
Speedwell Botanical Characteristics, Colors, Fragrances
Speedwell plants can be perennial or annual, but almost all of them bloom in spikes or with a few small and delicate blooms at the top of a thin stem. Colors range from deep blue to purple, pink, white, and lavender, especially for cultivated types.
Veronica plants have rounded stems in general. This helps identify varieties that resemble members of the mint family that has square stems.
Popular Speedwell Types, Species, and Cultivars
Veronica americana is a popular type with less showy flowers that has edible and medicinal uses. Veronica longifolia and Veronica spicata are both commonly called garden or spike speedwell because of their large and attractive flower spikes.
Another variety often grown in gardens is the Veronica prostrata or rock speedwell. It’s a spreading and sprawling type with large purple blooms and a short growth habit.
Speedwell as a common name comes from the propensity for most blooms to lose their petals after just a few days. The Genus name of Veronica is taken from St. Veronica, who wiped Christ’s face during his crucifixion. This has led to an association of healing and protection for the small plants that share this name.
The name Veronica dates back to Ancient Macedonia, potentially giving this plant a far deeper history of symbolic use that has since been lost.
What Regions are Speedwell Flowers Native to?
With over 500 different plants claiming the common name of Speedwell, it’s no surprise they’re native to many parts of the world. Many varieties are native to North America, which others come from Asia, Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean, or the Middle East.
When are Speedwell Flowers in Season?
Many Speedwell varieties bloom all summer long, from the warmest days of spring until nearly the end of Fall. A few varieties start blooming early in the spring, but they tend to stop flowering by the height of summer. The most popular garden varieties produce flowers for months on end with minimal care.
Uses and Benefits of Speedwell Flowers
Some Speedwell varieties are mildly toxic or irritating if consumed, but a few are edible and medicinal instead. Veronica americana in particular is consumed both fresh and cooked.
The European variety Veronica officinalis is routinely dried and used as a sore throat remedy in tea form. Showy landscape varieties are rarely edible or medicinal, but they’re attractive to bees and other pollinators instead.
Speedwell Flower Meaning & Symbolism
In addition to being edible and attractive, Speedwell is rich with symbolism and meaning that has hundreds of years of history behind it.
Common Speedwell Flower Colors and their Meaning & Symbolism
With so many colors to choose from for Speedwell blossoms, it’s easy to tailor the precise meaning of a flower by considering the secondary message of its color.
- Blue flowers symbolize openness for new experiences, peace, calmness, trust, and healing from illness
- Purple, royalty and regalness, elegance, mystery, passion, and transitions in life
- Pink, joy, youthfulness, early or developing feelings of love, gentleness, and delicacy
- White, innocence, purity, healing, new beginnings, romance, and devotion
- Lavender, youthful elegance, feminine beauty, joy, and happiness.
The Cultural Significance of Speedwell Flowers
Speedwell flowers have a long history of use in ancient cultures, so it’s not surprising that the plant’s most enduring meanings date back to the early days of Christianity.
Speedwell Flowers in Christianity
Speedwell’s association with Christianity comes from its genus name Veronica. This links the plant to Saint Veronica. She was one of the women who traveled with Jesus to Mount Calvary for the crucifixion. She was wearing a veil and gave it to Jesus when he needed to wipe his face while carrying the heavy cross. When he gave her the cloth back, it miraculously displayed a vision of his face. It became a relic of the early church.
The flower became associated with this story because the bright blue flowers of many Veronica species were associated with the eyes of Jesus. This gave the humble and common flower meaning of protection, healing, joyfulness, and support.
Christians commonly use Speedwell as a symbolic gift for encouraging fellow believers to hold fast to their faith in Christ, just like Veronica did during the difficult journey of the crucifixion.
Speedwell Flowers in Ancient Rome
In Ancient Rome, Speedwell wasn’t associated with a specific myth or deity like many other blossoms. Instead, it was regarded as a general cure-all and miracle healing herb.
The Romans most likely learned about the medicinal value of the plant from the Teutons as they conquered the European territories where many varieties are native.
While Speedwell isn’t quite the cure-all that it was once believed to be, the symbolic meaning of healing and hope remains in use today. Victorians also used Speedwell to symbolize success or victory.
Suitable Gifting Occasions for Speedwell Flowers
Speedwell flowers are most often included in “Get Well Soon” bouquets due to their long association with the meaning of healing. It’s also a good choice for weddings and graduations where a new beginning is imminent.
How to Care for Fresh Speedwell Flowers at Home
Speedwell flowers are delicate and tend to lose their petals after a few days no matter what. That’s part of what gives them their name.
However, keeping the flowers cold until they’re ready to present goes a long way in preventing petal loss. Misting the blooms can also help, but only lightly to prevent breakdown or mold growth.
Speedwell is easy to add to almost any garden thanks to its drought resistance and tolerance of poor soil. Add it to your landscape for a nearly year-round source of beautiful flowers full of meaning.
Speedwell Flower FAQ:
What is Speedwell used for?
Some cultures dry the herb to use as a tea for sore throats, while other varieties native to North America are edible.
Does Speedwell bloom all summer?
Most garden Speedwell varieties bloom from spring to fall, providing summer-long flowering.
Is Speedwell poisonous?
Some varieties of Speedwell are toxic or poisonous, while others are safe to use for edible and medicinal purposes.
Are Speedwell flowers hardy?
Some garden Speedwell varieties are hardy to USDA zones as low as 3, making them among the most winter hardy flowering plants.
What do Speedwell flowers symbolize?
Depending on the color, Speedwell symbolizes healing, hopefulness, peace, and recovery.
Petal Republic’s flower and plant guides:
Looking for a particular stem or in need of some inspiration on the best blooms for a certain occasion? Check out Petal Republic’s expert flower guides to Roses, Valerian, Astrantia, Viburnum, Acanthus, Ranunculus, Lilies, Irises, Borage, Clovers, Freesia, Marjoram, Anemone, Begonia, Orchids, Allium, Carnations, Coreopsis, Gerbera Daisies, Gladiolus, and Peonies.
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.