Veronica perfoliata

Digger’s Speedwell

Family: Plantaginaceae

Veronica perfoliata is a multi-brached clumping shrub that reaches a height of about 1.2 metres to 1 metre or more wide.

It has a limited range in NSW, found only on the central; and southern tablelands. There are records as far north as Gulgong and Scone, extending south and as far east as the Southern Highlands, extending south through the tablelands and into Victoria, as far west as the Bendigo-Ballarat area.

It typically grows in higher-altitude dry sclerophyll forest and woodland as well as meadows and rocky shrublands. It can be seen at times on rocky substrates or emerging out of rock crevices.

Veronica spp. have simple and opposite leaves. In this species, leaves are ovate, clasped tightly to the stem (perfoliate) and with a leathery texture, to 5.5 cm long and 4 cm wide; somewhat similar in appearance to the juvenile foliage of some eucalypts, being sometimes blue-green to glaucous in colour.

Veronica produce 4 to 5-lobed tubular flowers – blue, lilac or pink in colour, in arching axillary or terminal racemes. In this species, the racemes are up to 45 cm long, consisting of up to 70 flowers; each flower about 10 mm across, blue to purple in colour, appearing mainly in summer.

The fruit of Veronica is a capsule. In this species, it is about 9 mm long by 4 mm wide, generally ovate in shape.

In the garden

This species is known to be cultivated commonly and makes a stunning mature shrub in any garden.

It is very suited to rockeries and rocky soils. especially in frost-prone areas. It may not tolerate high humidity.

Plant in semi-shade for best results on a free-draining soil. It is also reported to be good in a pot.

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.

A mature Veronica perfoliata in full flower is one of the most eye-catching plants in our garden.


Veronica perfoliata, in company with other veronicas, propagates rapidly and enthusiastically from cuttings.

Other information

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 was introduced in England in 1815.

Veronica is a genus of about 500 species, mainly found in the northern hemisphere. Australia has about 20 native species. There are currently 24 species in NSW, 7 of these are introduced.

This species likely regenerates from seed after fire as well as from suckering root stocks.

Veronica – Long-used name applied to plants in this genus (‘speedwells’) and likely links to St. Veronica of the 1st Century.

perfoliata – Latin – ‘perfoliate’ – a condition where the leaf base encircles the stem and no leaf stalk (petiole) is present.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

Australian National Herbarium – Veronica perfoliata profile page      https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2003/derwentia-perfoliata.html

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Veronica perfoliata profile page      https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Veronica~perfoliata

By Warren and Gloria Sheather. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.