The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Veronica beccabunga
Veronica beccabunga
(European speedwell)

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Veronica beccabunga L.

Common name: European speedwell

Synonyms and Other Names: European speedwell, Water Pimpernel, Becky Leaves, Cow Cress, Horse Cress.

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Veronica beccabunga is an emergent perennial herb with horizontal or ascending stems that root at the nodes. The plant is smooth and shiny in appearance and has succulent, hollow stems that root and creep along the ground at the base. It has pairs of short, stalked, oval-oblong leaves that are thick and leathery in texture and are about 1 1/2 inch long, with slightly jagged or sinuated edges. Each pair of leaves has two flowers that stems from the upper leaf axils. Flowers are 2-4 inches long and about five millimeters wide with blue petals and a white eye. Occasionally, V. beccabunga flowers may be pink (Grieve 1995; Anderberg 2005).

Several subspecies of the plant occur. Studies of these species show that the plants present in eastern North America are of the beccabunga subspecies, which is distributed in Europe (Les and Stuckey 1985). V. beccabunga can be distinguished from the native Veronica americana by its leaf blades. In V. beccabunga, the blades are broadest above the middle and rounded at the apex. In V. americana, the leaf blades are broadest below the middle and the general outline of the leaf is thus more acute toward the apex. The style of V. beccabunga (part of the pistil that connects the stigma to the ovary) is distinctly shorter than the capsule, whereas V. americana styles are similar size as or slightly shorter than the capsules (Reznicek et al. 2011).

Size: to 2 ft.

Native Range: Europe, the Middle East, N. and W. Asia, and the Himalayas

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Veronica beccabunga are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
CA194920223California Region; East Walker; Upper King
CT198020032Housatonic; New England Region
IL194919601Lower Illinois-Senachwine Lake
ME193719371New England Region
MA200320031New England Region
MI1849199617Au Sable; Betsie-Platte; Boardman-Charlevoix; Clinton; Great Lakes Region; Huron; Keweenaw Peninsula; Lake Huron; Northeastern Lake Michigan; Northwestern Lake Huron; Northwestern Lake Michigan; Pere Marquette-White; Southcentral Lake Superior; Southeastern Lake Michigan; Southwestern Lake Huron; St. Clair; St. Clair-Detroit
NJ187619322Hackensack-Passaic; Middle Delaware-Musconetcong
NY188019363Irondequoit-Ninemile; Middle Hudson; Sandy Hook-Staten Island
OH198319842Upper Great Miami, Indiana, Ohio; Upper Scioto
PA189119882Lake Erie; Middle Delaware-Musconetcong
WV193119972Conococheague-Opequon; Upper Ohio-Shade

Table last updated 5/22/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

* HUCs are not listed for states where the observation(s) cannot be approximated to a HUC (e.g. state centroids or Canadian provinces).

Ecology: Veronica beccabunga occurs in most types of wetland and riparian habitats, although it is predominantly found on the muddy margins of brooks, rivers, ponds, and lakes (Lansdown 2013). While it is found at lake margins, it prefers lotic environments with cold, oxygen-rich waters and does not do as well in lentic environments (Les & Stuckey 1985). It is able to tolerate drying due to its ability to produce terrestrial forms along shores and it sometimes occurs in the draw-down zones of lakes and in ditches and canals where water is relatively shallow or the bank slopes are gentle enough to allow it to root (Lansdown 2013; Stodola 1967 in Les and Stuckey). Some observations of V. beccabunga indicate that this species is resilient to disturbance. V. beccabunga can be uprooted in storm events but it recovers quickly, and habitats that are affected by siltation are vulnerable to colonization (Haslam 1978 in Les & Stuckey 1985).

In Iran, V. beccabunga begins blooming in April or May, but in northern climates it is reported to flower as early as May or as late as August (Taheri & Shadkami-Till 2012; Anderberg 2005; Grieve 1995). This plant also is a resource for pollinating insects and some species of leaf eating insects throughout its native range (Taheri & Shadkami-Till 2012; Bienkowski & Orlova-Bienkowskaja 2015; Grieve 1995). The fly, Syritta pipians, Honey Bees, the larvae of the moth Athalia annulata, and the larvae of the beetle Phaedon armoraciae all have been reported to pollinate or feed on V. beccabunga (Bienkowski & Orlova-Bienkowskaja 2015; Grieve 1995).

Means of Introduction: An early record from solid ballast ground at Hunter’s Point, Long Island, New York in 1880, indicated that the plant was introduced in the solid ballast of ocean-going ships arriving from Eurasia.

Status: established

Impact of Introduction: Potentially invasive. Reportedly can form large stands. But many researches shown it is apparently posing little threat to aquatic communities. This plant is also regarded as one of the springtime food tonics.

Remarks: Several subspecies of the plant occur. Studies of these species show that the plants present in eastern North America are of the beccabunga subspecies which is distributed in Europe (Les and Stuckey 1985). In the past, this plant was occasionally used to treat scurvy (Usher 1974).   

References: (click for full references)

Anderberg, A. 2005. Bäckveronika: Veronica beccabunga L. http://linnaeus.nrm.se/flora/di/scrophularia/veron/verobec.html. Created on 11/15/2005. Accessed on 06/15/2017.

Bienkowski, A.O., and M.J. Orlova-Bienkowskaja. 2015. Trophic specialization of leaf beetles (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae) in the Volga Upland. Biology Bulletin 42(10):863-869. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Marina_OrlovaBienkowskaja/publication/284283893Trophic_Specialization_of_Leaf_Beetles_Coleoptera_Chrysomelidae_in_the_Volga_Upland/links/574457f008ae9f741b3d071a.pdf.

Doganlar, Z.B. 2012. Physiological and genetic responses to pesticide mixture treatment of Veronica beccabunga. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution 223(9):6201-6212. dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11270-012-1350-y.

Grime, J. P., J. G. Hodgson & R. Hunt. 1988. Comparative plant ecology. a functional approach to common British species. Unwin Hyman, London, UK. 742 pp.

Grieve, M. 1995. A Modern Herbal: Brooklime. http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/brookl69.html. Accessed on 06/15/2017.

Lansdown, R.V. 2013. Veronica beccabunga. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-1.RLTS.T167923A13574152.en. Accessed on 06/15/2017.

Les, D. H., and Stuckey, R. L. 1985. The introduction and spread of Veronica beccabunga (Scrophulariaceae) in Eastern North America. Rhodora 87(852):503-515.

Mehrhoff, L. J., J. A. Silander, Jr., S. A. Leicht, E. S. Mosher and N. M. Tabak. 2003. IPANE: Invasive Plant Atlas of New England. Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA. <www.ipane.org> [Accessed January 27, 2010]

Reznicek, A.A., E.G. Voss, and B.S. Walters. 2011. Michigan Flora Online. http://michiganflora.net/.

Taheri, E., and H. Shadkami-Till. 2012. Phenology of Veronica beccabunga flowering in NW Iran. International Journal of Forest, Soil and Erosion 2(2):74-77. www.ijfse.com.

Author: Cao, L. and P. Alsip

Revision Date: 1/19/2024

Citation Information:
Cao, L. and P. Alsip, 2024, Veronica beccabunga L.: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=261, Revision Date: 1/19/2024, Access Date: 5/23/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [5/23/2024].

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