Grey Field Speedwell
- Name also: Grey Speedwell, Wayside Speedwell, Grey field-speedwell
- Family: Plantain Family – Plantaginaceae
(formerly Figwort Family – Scrophulariaceae)
- Growing form: Annual herb.
- Height: 5–20 cm (2–8 in.). Stem limp, base branching, sparsely haired.
- Flower: Corolla almost regular (actinomorphic), blue, 3–6 mm (0.12–0.24 in.) broad, fused, 4-lobed, wheel-shaped, short-tubed. Calyx 4-lobed, lobes broadly ovate, with tapering tips, bases overlapping even in fruiting stage, glabrous but with hairy margins. Stamens 2. Pistil a fused carpel. Flowers solitary in axils. Flower-stalk curving downwards in fruit.
- Leaves: Opposite, short-stalked. Blade ovate–broadly elliptic, often shorter than broad, shiny, virtually glabrous, deeply serrated.
- Fruit: Broadly notched, flat, slightly broader than long, hairy, also with glandular hairs, yellowish brown capsule.
- Habitat: Gardens, ballast soil deposits, loading areas.
- Flowering time: June–September.
Grey field speedwell is native to the steppes of south-west Asia, from where it spread as a weed to a large part of Europe and Asia, and it has even established a foothold in Africa and North and South America. Grey field speedwell demands a lot of light and heat, so in Finland it grows mainly in the south. In most of the country it is a casual alien in gardens and ballast soil deposits. For weeding enthusiasts it is a pleasant surprise and is well worth a moment’s pause to admire it – if one would want to weed it out at all.
At first glance grey field speedwell resembles green field speedwell (V. agrestis), which is irregularly small-leaved and is Finland’s most common representative of limp-stemmed, small-flowered speedwells. Green field speedwell’s flowers, however, are almost white and its seed capsules have only glandular hairs. Another speedwell that grows especially in gardens, fields and vegetable patches in the Åland Islands is broadsepal speedwell (V. opaca), which is clearly hairier than grey field speedwell, and its leaves are shallow-toothed. Just to be sure, other differences are that grey field speedwell’s calyx lobes are broadly ovate, tapered, and overlapping at the edges while the plant is fruiting, while broadsepal speedwell’s have blunt tips, are clearly narrower, and don’t cover one another.