- Name also: Woodystem Speedwell
- Family: Plantain Family – Plantaginaceae
(formerly Figwort Family – Scrophulariaceae)
- Growing form: Perennial dwarf shrub. Rootstock horizontal, branched.
- Height: 5–10 cm (2–4 in.). Stem ascending, base wooden.
- Flower: Corolla almost regular (actinomorphic), dark blue, 10–15 mm (0.4–0.6) wide, fused, 4-lobed, wheel-shaped, short-funnelled. Calyx 4-lobed, lobes hairy. Stamens 2. Gynoecium fused, single-styled. Inflorescence short, sparse, elongating terminal raceme during flowering phase. Flower-stalk longer than subtending bract.
- Leaves: Opposite, almost stalkless. Blade narrowly obovate, thick, shiny, (quite) glabrous, with untoothed or shallowly serrated margins.
- Fruit: Elliptic, with notched tip, flattish, approx. 7 mm (0.28 in.) long, longer than calyx and longer than broad, hairy–glabrous capsule.
- Habitat: Shingly and rocky outcrops, Lappish rock faces, fell moors.
- Flowering time: July–August.
- Endangerment: Near threatened, protected in all of Finland.
That the majority of plants are either wood or herbaceous is so self-evident that there’s no need to even think about which group a certain species belongs to. But sometimes we come across a case which cannot be clearly classified into one group or the other. Rock speedwell is a mix of woody and herb stem which is quite rare in Finland. Its stems are wooden at the bottom, but the growth and flower shoots are herb-stemmed. Also characteristic of the plant are its small leathery leaves and the disproportionately large flower on the end of a small stalk. These are all characteristics of a fell plant, and slender rockwell grows rarely in northern Finland only on Enontekiö fells. It is usually found above the tree tine, but it can also grow in mountain birch woodland.
Rock speedwell is small but is easily noticed thanks to its eye-catching flowers. The dark stripes of its corolla and ring around the corolla’s throat act as nectar markers to pollinators, and the large, bright white anther only increases this attractiveness. The large flower easily reveals how all speedwells adapt to their pollinators, bees and flower flies. The insect sticks to the stamen that sticks out from the side as it goes into the flower and pulls the anthers against its fur. In the next flower the same part of the insect brushes against the pistil. Each individual flower is only open for a day, but new flowers open up for quite some time and the plant is in flower all through high summer in Lapland.