Speedwell was an official herb in medieval times, when Veronica officinalis (Heath Speedwell) was commonly used as a wound-healer. It had a reputation as a healing plant in general, particularly in skin complaints. “The water of Veronica distilled with wine, and re-distilled so often until the liquor wax of a reddish colour, prevaileth against the old cough, the dryness of the lungs, and all ulcers and inflammations of the same,” wrote 16th Century herbalist John Gerard. In the 18th Century, people were so convinced that speedwell cured gout that it almost disappeared from around London because of over-picking. Veronica was prescribed “to be taken in the spring for some time, especially by persons who drink much ale and are in gross habit of body.” A member of the figwort family, with 28 native species and 250 species worldwide, the veronicas represent fidelity in the language of flowers. V. chamaedrys, bright blue wayside flower of spring hedgerows, is the commonest of the species, and ‘speeds-you-well’, believed to offer protection on a journey. With its meaning of ‘prosper well, get well’, the flower brought good luck and good health. In Ireland, travellers had speedwell sewn into their clothes to protect them from accidents. In other places its name was a synonym for ‘farewell’, since the flowers fall off the stems soon after they are picked.