This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
The Northern Temperate Zone in Europe, North Africa, N. and W. Asia, and the Himalayas is the home of this plant, which is not known in any early deposits. Brooklime is found in all parts of Great Britain, as far north as the Shetlands, and in the Highlands ascends up to 2800 ft. It is found in Ireland and the Channel Islands.
Brooklime is a common aquatic species which grows in a submerged state in brooks, rivers, ponds, lakes, etc, and is thus a hydrophyte. With it grow Water Cress, Water Ranunculus, White and Yellow Water Lily, Water Mint, Amphibious Knotweed, Arrow Head, Flowering Rush, etc.
Half aquatic, the stem of this plant is prostrate, ascending at the tip, giving off roots at intervals. The whole plant is smooth and succulent, reddish, branched. The leaves are oval, blunt, coarsely toothed, smooth, fleshy, opposite; the teeth are terminated by stalked glands.
The flowers are blue, in racemes, with a white eye, axillary, opposite. The sepals are oval acute, not so long as the corolla. The flower-stalks are spreading. The corolla is striped at the base with deep veins, and may be pink, the petals oval and unequal. The capsule is round, flat, slightly larger than the sepals, notched, swollen. The seeds are winged, flattened, and smooth.
Brooklime grows to a height of 2 ft. Flowers are at their best in May and June. The plant is a herbaceous perennial, propagated by division.
The flowers are proterogynous, the stigma ripening first, and like V. Chamaedrys in the position of nectaries and contrivance for sheltering and indicating pollen. The position of the stamens and pistil regulates the pollination and possibility of self-pollination. The stigma is mature before the flower opens, and has long papillae, which adhere to the pollen, but the anthers have not yet opened. The stamens and style project from the flower and form an alighting place for insects. They are only partly expanded in dull weather, and the anthers are quite close to the stigma, and this leads to self-pollination.
Photo. J. H. Crabtree - Brooklime (Veronica Beccabunga, L.)
The petals are wide open in the sun, in one plane more or less. The stamens become widely spreading, and the anthers are far from the stigma before they open. The plant is much visited by insects, especially a fly, Syritta pipiens. The fly touches the anthers and stigma with different parts of its body, and both cross- and self-pollination result. It touches the stigma with the abdomen, which is previously covered with pollen.
Brooklime is visited by Syritta, Ascia, Eristalis, Scatophaga, Honey Bee, Andrena, Halictus.
The capsule, which is rounded, is turgid, and adapted for distribution by water.
The plant is aquatic, and needs no soil except the usual subaqueous mud.
Two beetles, Prasocuris junci, Gymnometron beccabungae, and a moth, Athalia annulata, feed on it.
Beccabunga, Dodonaeus, is from German Bach bunge - bach, a brook, bunge, bunch.
The plant is called Becky-leaves, Broklembe, Brooklime, Cow-cress, Horse Cress, Horse-well Grass, Limewort, Limpwort, Water Pimpernel, Wall-ink, Water Purpy, Well-ink. In Chaucer's day it was used for swellings, gout, etc. It is gathered with Water Cress, being acrid, disagreeable, and poisonous. But it is used as a spring salad occasionally.
Essential Specific Characters:237. Veronica Beccabunga, L. - Stem rooting below, prostrate, glabrous, leaves stalked, oval, serrate, flowers blue, in axillary racemes, capsule globular.