Betonica officinalis, Betony, British wildflowers, Stachys officinalis, wildflowers, wildflowers in road verges
This was a pretty find in an unmown roadside verge earlier this week. It looks more pink than my wildflower guide and most online images show, but I’m fairly sure this is Betony, which now goes by the scientific name of Betonica officinalis, but was previously Stachys officinalis.
Its common names include Common hedgenettle, and Bishopwort or Bishop’s wort, and my Flora Britannica labels it ‘one of the great “all-heals” of medieval herbalists’. The various old herbals claim it was effective for everything from treating arthritis and gout, to preserving the liver and curing drunkenness. Roman physician Antonius Musa reckoned it counteracted sorcery, and Christians planted Betony in churchyards as a ghost-busting tool.
I’ve read that various subspecies are available that produce different flower colours so perhaps this is one of those and the plants have developed from seed dropped via bird droppings, though the verge contains a wealth of other wildflowers – Yarrow, as you can see in one of my photos; Oxeye daisies; Knapweed; Bird’s-foot trefoil; and even three Pyramidal orchids. Before the high-rise apartment blocks and office blocks were built, this riverside location must have contained a wealth of wonderful plants and, perhaps now that the verge is not being mowed, the plants are making a comeback.
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