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.
1. Red Bartsia (Bartsia Odontites, Huds.). 2. Wood Basil (Clinopodium vulgare, L.). 3. Ground Ivy (Nepeta hederacea, Trev.). 4. Bugle (Ajuga reptans, L.). 5. Spurge Laurel (Daphne Lanreola, L.). 6. Common Elm (Ulmus campestris, L.).
Vetchling, Brambles, Bryony, in the hedge, Cow Parsnip, Hedge Parsley, Cleavers, Hoary Ragwort, Wild Basil, Stinging Nettle, etc.
A rather short, shrubby, branched plant, with an erect stem, and widely spreading branches, Red Bartsia has often the same sort of candelabra habit as Hedge Mustard. The stem is occasionally square, roughly hairy. The leaves are long, lance-shaped, distantly coarsely toothed, alternately opposite, stalkless, turned back, toothed, and veined. The plant is a hemi-parasite growing upon the roots of grasses.
The bracts or leaflike organs are lance-shaped, and exceed the flowers, which are purplish-red or pink, and borne in a pa-nicled spike, which is clustered, with flowers turned all one way and nodding. The sepals equal the tube, 4-5 mm. long, and are 4-toothed, and acute. The corolla is gaping, downy, with a hollow oblong lower lip, the upper divided into 3 segments. The capsule is flat and oblong, with striate white seeds.
Red Bartsia is 1 ft. in height. The flowers open in July, and continue till September. This plant is an annual propagated by seeds.
The honey is secreted at the base of the smooth ovary, and protected from the rain by the 4 adhering anthers, which lie close together and are clothed with hairs. Bees insert their probosces between the less closely aggregated filaments of the stamens to reach the honey, and in so doing they dust themselves with pollen, and transfer some of it to the stigma. Two or three purple spots at the bottom of the lower lip serve as honey-guides. The stamens all but touch below, and are clothed with sharp points inside, but just below the anthers they are smooth and further apart. Insects use the 3-lobed underlip as a resting place. The stigma projects some distance beyond the anthers in open sunny spots, but in shadier spots it hardly does so.
Photo. Dr. Somerville Hastings - Red Bartsia (bartsia Odontites, Huds.)
The anthers open inwards. All the anthers open if one is lightly touched. Hairs at the side directed downwards prevent the scattering of the pollen and ensure its transfer to the insect's proboscis.
The flowers are visited by the Honey Bee, Bombus lapidarius, and B. silvarum. The capsule splits open when ripe and opens above, and the seeds are dispersed around the parent plant.
Two fungi, Plasmopora densa and Coleosporium euphrasice, attack the leaves.
Bartsia, Linnaeus, is named after Bartsch, a Dutch botanist, who died in 1738, and Odontites, Pliny, is from the Greek, odous, tooth, because it was used for the toothache.
This plant is called Red Eyebright, Eyebright Cow Wheat, Hen Gorse, Sanctuary.
Essential Specific Characters: 239. Bartsia Odontites, Huds. - Stem erect, branched, leaves linear-lanceolate, narrowed below, serrate, flowers rose colour, in a one-sided raceme.