Veronica perfoliata has suffered a number of name changes since the species was named in the early 1800s. Derwentia and Parahebe were the genus names by which this species was known. Hopefully Veronica perfoliata will be its final identity.
Veronica perfoliata is a member of the Plantaginaceae family. This is another change because previously the species was included in the Scrophulariaceae family. Amidst all these changes the common name of Digger’s Speedwell has remained constant
Veronica perfoliata is a dwarf to small shrub that reaches a height of one metre in our garden. Many stems arise from a woody rootstock.
Leaves are ovate, opposite, clasped tightly to the stem and with a leathery texture. The leaves are similar in appearance to the juvenile foliage of some eucalypts. In fact, when not flowering, visitors often ask: “what sort of miniature gum tree is that?”
There is no way that a flowering Digger’s Speedwell could be mistaken for a dwarf eucalypt. Each of the multiple stems is crowned by a spike of purplish-blue flowers. Each spike will carry between 25 to 70 flowers. Summer is the main flowering period. A mature Veronica perfoliata in full flower is one of the most eye-catching plants in our garden.
The species comes from higher altitudes in central and southern NSW as well as central western Victoria.
Digger’s Speedwell could be grown as a foreground plant or incorporated in a rockery or cottage garden. Older plants may become straggly but are rejuvenated by pruning the stems almost to ground level.
Veronica perfoliata, in company with other veronicas, propagates rapidly and enthusiastically from cuttings.
Veronica perfoliata was introduced in England in 1815.