The scientific name of American brooklime, also known as American speedwell, is Veronica americana or Veronica beccabunga. Talk about confusing!!
This beautiful little flower is a rhizomatous perennial always found in or very near a clean water source such as mountain streams or spring seeps, often in association with watercress, skullcap or monkey flower. It grows throughout most of North America.
The blue to lilac flowers of American brooklime have four petals, two long stamens and grow in long loose clusters along the stem. The flowers are very delicate and pretty, but very small as evidenced in the scaled picture. The opposite leaves range from lance shaped to oval, are sharply pointed, and have toothed or entire margins. The hairless stems are round and somewhat succulent. The roots are often completely submerged in water.
The leaves, stems and flowers of American brooklime can be used as a salad vegetable or as a potherb. The taste, to me, is slightly bitter and resembles the flavor of watercress. A tea made from the leaves is used by herbalists as an expectorant and is reported to have diuretic properties.
The genus name, Veronica, may be derived from and Arabic word meaning “beautiful memory” in reference to the pretty flowers. The common name brooklime may come from Europe where this plant grows in the mud along streams and brooks where birds may become “limed” (limed means ensnaring birds in sticky matter). The alternate name, speedwell, means “get well” and could refer to the medicinal properties of this plant.
These plants were growing in the runoff of a little spring flowing into the Pit River near Fall River Mills CA (Shasta County). This water was flowing clear, the preferred habitat of American brooklime.