Saturday, March 31, 2012

Persian Speedwell

Another one from the archives (because I've got boy's birthdays and two-year-olds and gardens to attend to). But the often overlooked speedwell is worth mentioning again anyway...

Song of the Gypsyweed

Speedwell to travelers!
And speedwell is me.
My roots keep me from travelling,
As you can see.

Yet all those who travel
With their feet on the ground
Have noticed I've spread
The whole world round.

I'm too small to spy
From a car or a plane.
Yet, see me or not,
I'm here just the same.

So go on your travels.
And though they may say, "God speed,"
Don't pass by the gifts
Of the wise Gypsyweed.



There are many many species of speedwell, but the most abundant by far around here is Persian speedwell (veronica persica). This is such a small, spreading plant that it would be almost nondescript were it not for those multitudes of tiny pale blue flowers that seem to grab our attention beginning in early spring. What is this plant? Let's take a closer look.

With our noses a bit closer, we see the clusters of scalloped edged leaves and thin stems topped by the delicate flowers. Such a beautiful and abundant plant must have gifts to offer. The most used of the speedwells is the common speedwell (veronica officinalis), which is used by the gypsies as a blood purifier. It is claimed to remove excess mucus, soothe internal tissues, and treat coughs, asthma, pleurisy and tuberculosis. It is eaten raw and taken as a tea. Externally, it is used to treat skin inflammations, eruptions, ulcers and rashes, as well as used as a was for eye problems and to improve sight.

I suspect that my Persian speedwell can be used in much the same way. It's taste is slightly astringent, but not bad, and the tea is very nice. Looking at the flowers, one can see that they do resemble eyes, which would indicate their healing gifts to those organs (according to the ancient idea of the doctrine of signatures).

The plant is also known as "birdseye speedwell" and "gypsyweed."
Hhhmmm, could these folk names indicate in some way that this was once a much used and valued herb?


No comments:

Post a Comment