3 June 2009

Heath speedwell (Veronica officinalis)

There are several different species of speedwell in Brede High Woods and this one, heath speedwell, is common in dry, open places on acid soil.

The specific name officinalis means that the plant was used  medicinally and, in the case of this speedwell as with many other plants, an infusion made from the leaves was used as cough mixture and as a lotion for rubbing on wounds and itchy places.  It was, according to the herbal of Mrs Grieve, popular as a medicine among the Welsh.

The word 'speedwell' means 'speed to good health' or 'get well soon'.

Looking through the various web sites, it appears that some herbalists are none too clear on what V. officinalis actually looks like and some seem to believe that any speedwell, or maybe any blue flower, will do.

In Brede High Woods V. officinalis is the food plant of the very rare flea beetle Longitarsus longiseta, an insect no doubt that does not suffer from coughs.

Longitarsus longiseta a

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