Eyebright – Euphrasia officinalis

Eyebright Flower Bepton Down
Eyebright Flower Bepton Down
Eyebright Flower Bepton Down
Eyebright Flower Bepton Down

This plant came by its English name as it was used and still is by herbalists to lessen redness caused by conjunctivitis.
It is an annual, semi-parasitic plant obtaining nutrients from the roots of perennial grasses found in undisturbed meadows. This makes it a very useful plant as it will weaken vigorous grasses allowing other wildflowers to flourish. It is low growing attaining a maximum height of 25cm and some thirty species are recognised. The leaves are attractive being oval, sharply toothed and with a bronze hue.
The tiny flowers are exquisite. They are only 5-10mm long with two folded upper lips whilst the lower lip has three lobes. The petals have purple veins running through them and the middle lower lobe displays a yellow throat. It flowers from May until September producing seed capsules.
Eyebright is now classified as a Priority Species in the U.K. Biodiversity Action Plan. Unfortunately it is declining due to habitat loss.