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“Veronica” is the common name of the European speedwell (V. agrestis). Saint Veronica was the maiden who, on the road to Calvary, wiped Christ’s brow with her kerchief. The cloth thereafter bore the imprint of His face. The church bestowed the name “vera icon,” meaning “true image”—the derivation of the saint’s name. The name “speedwell” refers to the plant’s supposed medicinal properties—it was used for myriad conditions and especially for skin diseases.
The small flowers are deep blue to violet or white, in loose elongated clusters (racemes). Usually there are four petals; the upper one is the largest and the lowest one smallest, so the flowers are irregular. Two long stamens, an even longer style, and opposite lance-shaped leaves help to identify these plants.
Some of the species have long been used medicinally. The stems leaves and roots are used. They are considered to be an astringent, expectorant and diuretic, used to treat coughs, stomach and urinary disorders, rheumatism and as a general tonic. The Cherokee used them thusly and treated earache with the juice. Tannins, bitters, essential oil and the glycoside aucuboside along with vitamin C are responsible for the medical effects