Germander speedwell

Veronica chamaedrys

Chamaedrys’ – ‘low-growing oak’ – how could this be? Those bright eyes that speed you on your way, so close to the ground they grow, their intensities of blue far from the sky-reaching oaks of the air.

Familiar local names refer to the eye-shaped petals, ‘cat’s eye’, ‘blue eye’, ‘bright eye’.  In Welsh it is Llygad doli – ‘Doll’s eye’ –  but also Llysiau Llywelyn. Herblore says that if you pick or harm this flower birds will peck out your eyes. So I think of Llywelyn – ‘oak door of Aberffraw’ his bard called him when his head was struck off, his heart of oak laid low. Did birds peck out his eyes when they stuck his head on an iron pole? Their brightness faded …

But the bright eyes of these low-lying oaks still gleam beneath the hedgerow.

Veronica chamaedrys


The name Llysiau Llywelyn is also applied to the low growing plants known in English as ‘Fluellen’ (Kickxia elantine & Kickxia spuria).

Who knows why?

2 thoughts on “Germander speedwell

  1. What a bittersweet flower. They’re so pretty, but observing them after taking in your post makes me feel pained. Almost like the sight provokes a visceral reaction in my abdomen. You have a quiet power with your words Greg. I think this is your best yet in your “herblore” series.

  2. I get all the ‘eye’ connections but not oak either… strange how these names come to be… the possible link to the eyes of Llywelyn the oak door is an interesting one.

What do you think?