Botanical name: Veronica chamaedrys
Aliases: Bird’s-eye, Eye of Christ, cat’s-eye, Angel’-eye
General information: Germander speedwell is a herbaceous perennial plant, it is a common, hardy plant that invades lawns and turf.
Although it is not as common in fine turf as slender speedwell, it is equally as difficult to remove with selective weed killers.
It is also common in grassy areas, such as hedgerows and verges as well as waste sites with areas of exposed soil.
The underground creeping stems (known as rhizomes) are initially prostate, where the weed roots at intervals via the stem nodes. The stems eventually become erect, where they can reach nearly 50 cm in height, if they are allowed to grow freely. Germander speedwell has a fibrous root system.
It reproduces from seed and by loose fragments that are returned to the lawn from mechanical operations, such as mowing and scarifying.
Germander Speedwell Identification
- Leaves: The leaves are a dull green, they form in opposite pairs and the surface is covered in very fine hairs. They are oval to kidney shaped, with the edges being toothed. They are somewhat larger than those of slender speedwell and measure between 10 – 25mm in length.
- Flowers: The flowers spikes are borne on long stalks which produce between 10 – 20 flowers. They are a deep blue-purple colour, with white centres. Each flower bears 4 petals, with a single petal being noticeably smaller than the remaining three. Measuring around 12 mm across they are generally in bloom between May and August.
- Roots: Germander speedwell has a fibrous root system.
Germander Speedwell Images (click image to enlarge)
Prevention and control: Maintain a healthy sward with good turf care practices. A balanced feed program, regular aeration and verti-cutting etc should all play a key role in any turf care program.
As germander speedwell can reproduce from loose fragments of stems and shoots, it is important to box off clipping when mowing the grass to prevent the weed from spreading further. Avoid using the clipping for compost.
Raking this weed into an erect position prior to mowing will remove parts of the plant, thus weakening it.
Frequent mowing will prevent germander speedwell from flowering.
Be on the look out for isolated plants and hand weed them as they appear. If given the chance germander speedwell will spread aggressively forming large patches in a short period of time.
An application of lawn sand, early spring time will help burn off the leaves (although it won’t kill the plant), stressing it. Lawn sand is often applied during the spring as it is the traditional way of controlling moss in lawns and turf.
Germander speedwell is resistant to many of the ingredients used in selective weed killers, for this reason it is extremely difficult to control in turf . If you intend to go down the chemical route, choose a product that contains fluroxypyr for the best results. Fluroxypyr has been proven to be the most effective chemical in controlling speedwell.
Below are a list of products recommended for the control of this weed. More than one application will be required and even then, the weed may still persist.
Recommended products for germander speedwell control
Professional products (The user requires the appropriate certificate/s to apply these products)
Headland Cabadex (Fluroxypyr, Flurosulam)
Everris Praxys (Clopyralid, Fluroxypyr, Fluosulam)
Barclay Holster XL (2,4-D, Fluroxypyr, Dicamba)
Mascot Greenor (Clopyralid, Fluroxypyr, MCPA)
Products available for non-professional use (These products are available from garden centres and DIY stores)
Verdone extra (Clopyralid, Fluroxypyr, MCPA)
Weedol lawn weed killer (Clopyralid, Fluroxypyr, MCPA)