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.
- Polygaleae. Germander Speedwell. Veronica chamsedrys.
- Scrophularineae. It is a widely distributed species, flowering from April to June, and found on shady banks, and in woods. The name Fragaria is from the Latin fragrans, fragrant, and has reference to the perfumed fruit.
Nestling closely among the grass of heaths and dry pastures, the Milkwort, though commonly and profusely distributed, is not a well-known plant. It is only a few inches in height, and scarcely noticeable when not in flower. The narrow, tough leaves are scattered alternately on the stem. The broad inner two of the five sepals are coloured purple, and the corolla may be the same hue, or pink, blue, white or lilac. The structure of the flower is very curious, and should be carefully noted by aid of the pocket-lens. The stamens cohere, and the corolla is attached to the sheath thus formed. The pistil has a protecting hood over it, obviously with reference to the visits of insects; but the flower is also self-fertile. When the fruit is formed the sepals turn green. The name of the genus is derived from two Greek words, polus and gala, meaning much milk, from an ancient notion that cows eating this plant were enabled to give a greatly increased supply of milk. There are two other British species:
I. Proliferous Milkwort (P. calcarea), branches rooting, and giving rise to new plants. Inner sepals broader and longer. Dry soils in south and south-east of England.
II. Bitter Milkwort (P. amara), much smaller in all respects than the others; the inner sepals are narrow, and the leaves form a rosette. Very rare. Found only on the margins of rills in Teasdale, and Wye Down, Kent. They all flower from June to August.
The Germander Speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys) is the representative of a genus which includes sixteen native species, most of them with bright blue flowers of a particular form. The corolla is tubular for half its length, the upper portion divided into four spreading lobes, of which the upper and lower are usually broader than the lateral pair. The two stamens are attached within the corolla-tube just below the upper lobe, and the anthers and stigma protrude beyond the mouth of the tube. V. chamaedrys grows to greatest advantage in a great mass on a sloping bank, where, in May and June, its intensely bright blue flowers are very attractive. It is a most disappointing flower to gather, for the corollas readily drop off, and the beauty of the "button-hole" has rapidly passed. A line robust species, the Brooklime (V. beccabunga), grows in bogs, ditches, and by the margins of streams, with stout stem and thick leaves; flowering from May to September.