SPECIES: — Shy Eyebright, Southport Eyebright

CLASSIFICATION: Critically endangered

There are many species of Eyebright, notoriously difficult to tell apart. One of the most endangered - critically endangered in fact - the Shy Eyebright is known from only three populations in Tasmania. Its flower consists of a hood of two fused petals and a skirt of three fused petals, mauve in colour, fading to white. The name Eyebright might come from the appearace of the flower, which is reminiscent of an eye. It could also be for its healing properties, used by our ancestors as an eye-care herb by pressing the flower and extracting its juice. Interestingly, it's helpful not only for eyes, but also colds and hayfever. Certainly a good one to have growing in your garden in the lead-up to the springtime.

To its detriment, Eyebrights are reliant on recruitment from seed to regenerate. As they require light for germination, this explains why plants are found in open habitat, often in coastal areas, open woodland or at the forest edge. The plants themselves can also be quite hard to spot unless they are in flower, and so can quite often and unknowingly be trampled.

Photo: Wendy Potts

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