Speedwell veronica species
WB stage 12Heath speedwell ( Veronica officinalis) Field speedwell ( V.persica)
Germander speedwell (V.chamaedrys) Wood speedwell ( V.montana).
Common Name: Germander Speedwell Latin : Veronica chamaedrys Family: Veronicaceae
History and/or use:. Treatment for bronchitis, coughs and catarrh.
Wildlife Value: Good nectar plant.
Qualities of speedwell
Clear blue are the skies;
My petals are blue;
As beautiful, too,
As bluest of eyes.
The heavens are high:
By the field-path I grow
Where wayfarers go,
And “Good speed,” say I;
“See, here is a prize
Of wonderful worth:
A weed of the earth,
As blue as the skies!”
This familiar plant of waysides and grass verges produces bright blue flowers from April to June. This wonderful plant is known as one of the wayfarer herbs guiding the lone traveller along country lanes cheering their journey and offering good luck. However this dainty bright weed has a tenacious habit and bears a warning of protection. Its flowers are watchful likened to eyes but what are they watching?
'Fresh beauty opens one's eyes wherever it is really seen, but the very abundance and completeness of the common beauty that besets our steps prevents its being absorbed and appreciated. It is a good thing, to creep like worms into dark holes and caverns underground, not only to learn something of what is going on in those out-of-the-way places, but to see better what the sun sees on our return to common everyday beauty.'
In traditions all over the globe we are asked to respect nature and this plant is said to be protected by birds and offers good luck but if we sever our connection to nature and no longer see its beauty in the dark places as well as the light where creation begins we fall into forgetfulness of the earth and all its beauty. These traditional warnings therefore are reminders to honour nature at all times and to not fall out of sync with her sweet caress.
Many poems and stories refer to the wonderful blue eye-like flowers of this plant. It is a weed of cultivation as well as an ancient herb and popular tea. As a tea it can help relief bronchitis, whooping cough and catarrh. Although the heath speedwell’s Latin name ‘officinalis’ denotes it as the official plant used by the apothecary, all of the above species named can be used.
It is the germander speedwell which is most commonly referred to as bird’s eye mainly due to its distinctive white eye against its bright blue petals. Traditionally as already mentioned it is said that birds protect it, so pick with care!
In Ireland sprays of speedwell were pinned to traveller’s clothing to protect them from accidents and the phrase ‘speed-you-well’ was used to bless their parting. This plant seems to invoke tenderness as its Latin name Veronica may be named after the saint who wiped Christ’s face as he carried the cross. It is a key nectar plant well known for as producing nectar for the solitary bees who like the lone traveller follow it along the wayfarer's paths.
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Poetry of flowers
Join me to explore the flora of the British Isles on this blog. My intention is to attempt to capture the unique quality and beauty of each species of flower, tree or shrub. For every species featured I will be growing many more wildflowers to celebrate the joy of their existence, their intrinsic conservation value and bewildering array of uses. For nearly 30 years I have noted, studied and explored wildflowers in the field much to the patience of the walker beside me. To share this passion is a heartfelt plea to respect, preserve and care for all British Wildflowers no matter how common they seem.