• Key characteristics
  • Biology
  • Impacts
  • Control
  • Further information

  • Eighteen species of Veronica are found in New Zealand but some of these are of limited distribution or are rare, and others are only associated with waterways and are not dealt with here
  • The three most common species are scrambling speedwell (Veronica persica), turf speedwell (Veronica serpyllifolia) and field speedwell (Veronica arvensis)

Scrambling speedwell (Veronica persica)

  • A small, hairy annual species that can germinate in both spring and autumn and can be found at any time of the year. As its name suggests, it has long sprawling stems which scramble along the ground and over surrounding plants
  • Bright blue flowers, 10 to 15 mm across, which often make the plants stand out amongst other vegetation
  • Commonest of the speedwells and is widespread throughout the country on arable land, waste open ground, along roadsides, in dry river beds, rough pastures and other open modified habitats.

Turf speedwell (Veronica serpyllifolia)

  • A small perennial weed commonly found in turf but also in pastures
  • Leaves are hairless
  • Has stolons that allow it to creep over the ground below mower height
  • Although small and inconspicuous it can sometimes form dense mats in turf
  • Flowers are mostly very pale blue or white, with blue streaks
  • Widespread and very common throughout New Zealand, found in pastures and lawns but also around small ponds and streams, and in low vegetation in swamps.

Field speedwell (Veronica arvensis)

  • A small annual species, usually germinating in autumn and flowering in the spring, after which the plants die
  • Stems and leaves are hairy and the flowers are very small, about 2-3 mm across and deep blue in colour when open but many are self-fertile and never open fully
  • Very common throughout the country along roadsides, on arable land, in lawns and poor pastures
  • Similar to scrambling speedwell but is smaller and does not have creeping stems, although it can still form low-growing mats.

Spring speedwell (Veronica verna)

  • Only found in the South Island, although it is sometimes very common on dry stony ground in Marlborough, Canterbury and Otago.

Creeping speedwell (veronica filiformis)

  • Limited in its distribution, being only found in Auckland and Palmerston North in the North Island.


  • These species almost all originated in northern temperate regions, either in Eurasia, North Africa or North America
  • Some of these species arrived here early, soon after European settlement, others as late as the 1930s and 1940s
  • Most of our commoner species are now found round most of the world’s temperate regions.

Life cycle

  • Some of these species are annuals and some perennials, some germinate only in autumn, others at any time of the year. The annual species die after flowering.


  • The speedwells are reputed to have a number of medicinal uses. They are used in herbal preparations for their anti-inflammatory, tonic, expectorant and diaphoretic properties, as well as being valued as diuretics, depuratives, liver protective and tonic values. Herbalists sometimes use them to relieve various allergies. Speedwells are commonly used as the basis of cough medicines.

Impact on pasture

  • These plants are too small to have much effect on grazed pastures and no effects are known on grazing animals
  • Speedwells, if present, can be difficult to control in new pasture.

Impact on turf and lawns

  • Speedwells, especially turf speedwell, can form unsightly patches in lawns and are resistant to most commonly used herbicides.

Grazing and cultural management

  • Maintaining a good tight sward, especially in autumn and winter is important for limiting invasion by speedwells in the following seasons
  • In turf, make sure fertiliser inputs are adequate and that the mowing regime is appropriate for the turf species in use. Making sure of a good tight sward in early autumn will help keep out field speedwell and other speedwells
  • Hoeing is effective for keeping scrambling speedwell under control.

Chemical control

  • The speedwells are difficult to control in pasture being tolerant of most commonly used herbicides including the hormones 2,4-D, MCPA and dicamba, bentazone and bentazone/MCPB mixtures, and the sulfonylurea tribenuron. They are controlled by Dynamo (bentazone/flumetsulam)
  • Speedwells are not affected by MCPA or 2,4-D, and also tolerate trifluralin, dicamba and clopyralid, making them a problem in brassica crops. They are also unaffected by diuron or triclopyr
  • A mixture of mecoprop and ioxynil, however, gives good control in turf grass, lawns or cereals, and herbicides containing diflufenican are effective in cereals and turf.