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Welsh Eyebright

Euphrasia cambrica

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Orobanchaceae (Broomrape)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
8 centimetres tall
Fields, grassland, meadows, mountains.

White, 5 petals
Small flowers, white or lilac. The lower lip is 3-lobed and either white or yellow. Flowers measure 4 or 5mm across.
The fruit is a capsule.
Small, oval, toothed leaves in opposite pairs along the stems. This species of Eyebright is much smaller than most other UK species. Can be found growing on mountains in North Wales.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Euphrasia cambrica, also known as Welsh eyebright or common eyebright, is a species of flowering plant in the family Orobanchaceae. It is native to Europe and is known for its medicinal properties. The plant is used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including eye irritation, conjunctivitis, and other eye disorders. It is also used to treat respiratory and digestive problems. It is a perennial herb that grows to be about 15-50 cm tall, with small pink or purple flowers. The leaves are oblong in shape and grow in opposite pairs. The plant is commonly found in grassy meadows and pastures in Wales.


Welsh Eyebright, scientifically known as Euphrasia cambrica, is a plant species native to the damp meadows and cliffs of Wales and the surrounding areas of the UK. Despite its small size and unassuming appearance, Welsh Eyebright is a powerful herb with a long history of medicinal use, particularly for the treatment of eye conditions. In this blog, we will explore the botanical characteristics, traditional uses, and modern scientific evidence surrounding this fascinating herb.

Botanical Characteristics

Welsh Eyebright is a tiny annual plant that grows to a height of between 10-50cm. It has delicate, lance-shaped leaves and small, tubular flowers that range in color from pale pink to deep purple. The plant's most distinctive feature is the yellow-orange markings on its upper petals, which are said to resemble the iris of an eye. This characteristic is the reason behind the plant's common name "Eyebright."

Traditional Uses

Welsh Eyebright has been used for centuries as a traditional remedy for eye conditions. It was believed to have the power to soothe and heal a variety of eye problems, including conjunctivitis, styes, and even cataracts. In traditional folk medicine, the herb was often steeped in water to make a soothing eye wash, or made into a poultice to be applied directly to the affected eye.

Modern Scientific Evidence

Despite its long history of use, there has been limited scientific research into the medicinal properties of Welsh Eyebright. However, there is some evidence to suggest that the herb may have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which could help to reduce the symptoms of eye conditions such as conjunctivitis. There is also some preliminary evidence that compounds in the plant may have a protective effect on the eyes, potentially reducing the risk of damage from UV light and other environmental toxins.


Welsh Eyebright is a small but mighty herb with a long history of use in traditional medicine. Although more research is needed to fully understand its potential health benefits, there is some evidence to suggest that it may be useful in the treatment of eye conditions. Whether you are looking for a natural remedy for an eye problem, or simply want to learn more about the rich history of herbal medicine, Welsh Eyebright is an herb worth exploring.

More Information

In addition to its traditional use as a treatment for eye conditions, Welsh Eyebright has also been used for other purposes in traditional medicine. For example, it has been used as a remedy for respiratory conditions, such as coughs and colds, as well as for digestive issues and skin problems.

The active compounds in Welsh Eyebright are thought to include iridoids, flavonoids, and phenylethanoids, which may contribute to its medicinal properties. However, further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms by which the plant may work, and to establish its safety and efficacy for different health conditions.

In terms of dosage and preparation, it is important to consult with a qualified healthcare provider before using Welsh Eyebright for medicinal purposes. The herb is typically taken as a tea or tincture, and the recommended dosages may vary depending on the individual and the condition being treated.

Welsh Eyebright is a fascinating herb with a long history of use in traditional medicine. While more research is needed to fully understand its potential health benefits, it is an herb worth considering for those seeking natural remedies for various health conditions. However, it is always important to consult with a healthcare provider before using any herbal remedies, to ensure safety and proper dosage.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Welsh Eyebright is also of interest to ecologists and conservationists. The plant is considered a rare and endangered species, and its survival is dependent on the preservation of its natural habitats, which include damp meadows, cliffs, and other areas with moist soils.

Conservation efforts are underway in the UK to protect and restore these habitats, with the goal of preserving Welsh Eyebright and other species that are dependent on them. This includes the creation of nature reserves, the implementation of sustainable land management practices, and the control of invasive species that may compete with native plants for resources.

Furthermore, Welsh Eyebright is an important food source for various pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and moths, which are essential to the health and stability of ecosystems. By protecting and preserving the habitats of Welsh Eyebright, we can also support the survival and wellbeing of these important pollinators.

In conclusion, Welsh Eyebright is a valuable and fascinating plant species, with both medicinal and ecological significance. Through conservation efforts and research, we can work to better understand the benefits of this plant and ensure its survival for future generations.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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