Wednesday 13 March 2019

Are you a speedwell fan? We're sending you on a quest!

Veronica hederifolia subsp. hederifolia
 (on left) and subsp. lucorum (on right)
Image: M. Wilcox
Mike Wilcox has been in touch - he's been thinking about subspecies of Ivy-leaved speedwell Veronica hederifolia. He tells me that separating the two subspecies of this fairly common plant can be really difficult - now there's a challenge for News & Views readers! Mike is keen to find good ways to separate these two subspecies and you can help him.

Over to Mike: "In Britain and Ireland there are two subspecies of Veronica hederifolia (Ivy-leaved Speedwell), subsp. hederifolia and subsp. lucorum. While both are relatively distinct in their flower characters (flower/anther size and colour, and pollen size c.40 & 30 microns resp., see Plant Crib Veronica section; though I have found that some of these are variable), when not in flower they pose problems, as other characters are variable and seem to overlap. It may then require anatomical aspects such as the size of the stomata to be looked at. I would like to investigate known characters and look for possible new ones. 

"As a last push towards Atlas2020, please collect vouchers especially if in flower. Preferably samples should be fresh in a small plastic bag as flowers will drop off easily. I will refund the postage in stamps if required".

Send your specimens to M. Wilcox: 43 Roundwood Glen, Greengates, Bradford, BD10 0HW or email Mike:

To help you in your quest, Michael has sent the photo (above) of both subspecies side by side and I've taken a photo (below) of the relevant section in Clive Stace's New Flora of the British Isles ed. 4. That's for anyone who hasn't yet bought a copy of the Botanists' Bible.

Good luck! 

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