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