This little plant, with its exquisite flowers of celestial blue, grows
most familiarly in our hedgerows throughout the Spring, and early
Summer. Its brilliant, gemlike blossoms show a border of pale
purple, or delicate violet, marked with deeper veins or streaks. But
the lovely circlet of petals is most fragile, and falls off at a touch;
whence are derived the names Speedwell, Farewell, Good-bye, and
Speedwell is a Veronica (fero, I bring, nikee, victory),
which tribe was believed to belong especially to birds. So the plant
bears the name Birds' Eyes, as well as Blue Eyes, Strike Fires,
and Mammy Die (because of the belief that if the herb were
brought  into a family the mother would die within the year).
Turner calls the plant Fluellin, or Lluellin, a name the
shentleman of Wales have given it because it saved her nose, which
a disease had almost gotten from her. Further, it is the Paul's
Betony, called after Paulus OEgineta. The plant belongs to the
It is related that a shepherd observed how a stag, whose
hind-quarters were covered with a scabby eruption brought about through
the bite of a wolf, cured itself by rolling on plants of the Speedwell,
and by eating its leaves. Thereupon he commended the plant to his
king, and thus promoted his majesty's restoration to health.
In Germany it bears the title Grundheele, from having cured a
king of France who suffered from a leprosy for eight years, which
disease is named grund in German. At one time the herb was held
in high esteem as a specific for gout in this country, but it became
adulterated, and its fame suffered a downfall.
The only sensible quality of the Speedwell is the powerful
astringency of its leaves, and this property serves to protect it
from herbivorous foes.
It has been long held famous among countryfolk as an excellent
plant for coughs, asthma, and pulmonary consumption. The leaves
are bitter, with a rough taste; and a decoction of the whole plant
stimulates the kidneys. The infusion promotes perspiration, and
reduces feverishness. The juice may be boiled into a syrup with
honey, for asthma and catarrhs.
When applied outwardly, it is said to cure the itch; and by some it
has been asserted that a continued use of the infusion will overcome
sterility, if taken daily as a tea. The French still distinguish the
plant as the  The d'Europe; and a century ago it was used
commonly in Germany in substitution for tea. As a medicine, by
reason of its astringency, it became called Polychresta herba
My freckles with the Speedwell's juices washed, says Alfred
Austin, our Poet Laureate.
The Germans also name this plant Ehren-preis, or Prize of
Honour; which fact favours the supposition of its being the true
Forget-me-not, or souveigne vous de moy, as legendary on
knightly collars of yore to commemorate a famous joust fought in
1465 between the most accomplished champions of England and
The present Forget-me-not is a Myosotis, or Mouse Ear, or
In Somersetshire, the pretty little Germander Speedwell is known as
Cat's Eye: and because seeming to reflect by its azure colour the
beautiful blue firmament above, this pure-tinted blossom has got its
name of veron eikon, the true image (Veronica); just as the
napkin with which a compassionate maiden wiped the face of Christ
on the morning of His crucifixion, held imprinted for ever on its
fabric a miraculous portrait, which led to her being afterwards
canonised on this account as Saint Veronica.
The Emperor Charles the Fifth of Spain is said to have derived
much relief to his gout from the use of this herb. It contains
tannin, and a particular bitter principle.