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Field speedwell is a small annual species, normally growing as a winter annual, germinating in autumn and flowering in spring. It looks very similar to scrambling speedwell, and can be found in similar habitats, ie in gardens and arable crops. However, field speedwell is better suited than scrambling speedwell for growing in turf, where it is better able to grow beneath the mower blades than scrambling speedwell. Although it doesn’t produce creeping stems like the closely related turf speedwell or creeping speedwell, it can still form low growing mats within turf, and is difficult to remove with selective herbicides. As with all of these speedwells, they were until recently in the Scrophulariaceae family but have now been reclassified as being in the Plantaginaceae family.
Field speedwell looks much the same as scrambling speedwell when vegetative, only smaller. Size is not a good characteristic to use in situations such as flower gardens where it may become quite large. They have similar leaf shapes and are both hairy. Once they are flowering however, the stalks on which flowers and fruits are found within scrambling speedwell, which are absent in field speedwell, can differentiate them. So the small blue flowers and the resulting heart-shaped fruits simply grow at the base of leaves in field speedwell. Turf speedwell has no hairs on its leaves, and the flowers are mainly white. Creeping speedwell has different shaped-leaves, has roots along its stems and long stalks under each flower in spring.
All speedwells are difficult to kill selectively in turf due to their resistance to MCPA, 2,4-D, clopyralid (eg Versatill) and also Victory Gold (picloram + triclopyr). It is best controlled with ioxynil as a seedling, or with Image (ioxynil + bromoxynil + mecoprop) which will kill older plants. Being an annual, it will die off naturally in spring anyway, and keeping turf dense in autumn will stop it re-establishing again. It is also susceptible to diflufenican, which is present in the turf herbicides sold as Agpro Fairway or Bow & Arrow NZ.
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Last updated on Friday 11 October 2019