Freitag, 22. Juni 2012

Plant of the Day (June 22nd, 2012) - Veronica teucrium L.


Today's “Plant of the Day” is Veronica teucrium L.; a member of the Plantaginaceae family. In English, this species is known as “Large Speedwell” while the common German name is “Großer Ehrenpreis”.

V. teucrium - habitus

It's a perennial herb, which can reach a height between 30 and 100 centimetres (11.8 to 39.3 inches); making it to one of the largest, middle European speedwells, which is also the reason for its name. The round stalk is hairy all around. The leaves are sitting directly at the stalk. They are egg-shaped and have a very strong serrated margin. 

 V. teucrium - leaves and stalk (note the hairs)

The inflorescences of V. teucrium are terminal, stalked racemes. The flowers are a little bit zygomorphic and remind to a supper. They have one large and one small petal, what is typical for the Genus Veronica. All petals are sky blue with distinct dark veins; the sepals are green and very narrow.
It's also interesting, that V. teucrium has five sepals but only four petals (some species of the Genus Veronica still have a tiny, fifth petal as vestige). Flowering time is between May and July.
The ripe fruit is a hairy, spade-shaped capsule.

V. teucrium - inflorescence

V. teucrium is native to Middle Europe and Eurasia. Its areal spreads from the North Sea in the North to the Balkans in the South and from France in the West to Siberia in the far East. However, within this area, it grows very scattered and is more frequently in one area than in others.
The species prefers warm, relatively dry places on shallow, loamy soils. It can be found on meadows, in bushes or at the edges of forest.

Because of the large, beautiful flowers, it's also a very popular garden plant, which attracts bees and bumblebees.

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