Botanical name: Euphrasia himalayica Family: Orobanchaceae (Broomrape family)
Eyebright is a small, annual plant with deeply cut leaves, found wild in the The plant is hemiparasitic - the roots have foodgathering nodules that attach to the roots of surrounding plants in order to obtain food. Therefore, eyebright is difficult to cultivate, and virtually the entire supply is harvested from the wild. Eyebright displays many small, white or purplish flowers variegated with yellow. The various spots and stripes on the flowers cause them to resemble bloodshot, or similarly afflicted, eyes. This, in turn, has caused the plant to be used since the Middle Ages to treat such conditions. The usage was obviously based on the so-called "Doctrine of Signatures." Most modem herbalists recommend a lotion or infusion prepared from the entire overground portion of the plant for conjunctivitis and other eye irritations. Chemical studies of eyebright have identified a number of constituents, including aucubin, caffeic and ferulic acids, sterols, choline, various basic compounds, and a volatile oil. However, none of these constituents is known to possess any useful therapeutic properties for the treatment of eye disease, nor are there any modern scientific studies that attempt to measure the effectiveness of the herb. Eyebright is found in the forest undergrowth, especially in ravines, wasteland and secondary forest in the Himalayas, from Kashmir to SW China at altitudes of 2700-4200 m. Flowering: May-July.
Identification credit: Navendu Pagé
The flower labeled Eyebright is ...