This section is from the book "Wayside And Woodland Blossoms", by Edward Step. Also available from Amazon: Wayside And Woodland Blossoms: A Guide To British Wild-Flowers.
From the close-cropped turf of our commons and in meadows the bright eyes of this plant peep out through the summer. In such situations it is a very lowly herb, only an inch or so in height, but in some places, as in the pastures of the Highlands, it grows erect to a height of nearly a foot, with many opposite branches. The leaves are ovate, opposite, without stalks, and of a dark-green hue. The flowers are borne near the extremities of the branches. Some of the flowers are much larger than others, and in the larger the stigmas ripen before the anthers; in the smaller the anthers mature before the stigmas. The tubular calyx is divided into four sharp lobes. The corolla is white, streaked with purple, except the central lobe of the lower lip, which is yellow. This is the only native species of the genus - which is comprised in the order Scrophularineae - though there are several varietal forms. Flowers from May to September. The name is from the Greek, Euphraino, to delight or gladden, in allusion to the pleasing contrast of its bright flowers with the dark foliage, or from its supposed efficacy for complaints affecting the eyes - its removal of these giving gladness.
The plant is - at least partially - a parasite, and preys upon the roots of other plants, which it robs. Probably the lowly forms to which we have referred may be less parasitic than those of greater stature; for if the seeds are sown in pots by themselves they will germinate and grow, but will never get large robust plants.
- Scrophularineae. •