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Euphrasia rostkoviana
Scientific classification

About 450, see text

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Euphrasia rostkoviana
Scientific classification

About 450, see text

Euphrasia (Eyebright) is a genus of about 450 species of herbaceous flowering plants in the family Orobanchaceae (formerly included in the Scrophulariaceae), with a cosmopolitan distribution. They are semi-parasitic on grasses and other plants. The common name refers to the plant's use in treating eye infections.

Many species are found in alpine or sub-alpine meadows where snow is common. Flowers usually are borne terminally, are zygomorphic, and have a lower petal shaped like a lip. The most common flower colours are purple, blue-white, and violet. Some species have yellow markings on the lower petal to act as a guide to pollinating insects.

Alternative names, mainly in herbalism, are Augentrostkraut, Euphrasiae herba, Herba Euphrasiae and Herbe d'Euphraise.

Use in herbalism and medicine[edit]

The plant was known to classical herbalists, but then was not referred to until mentioned again in 1305. Nicholas Culpeper assigned it to the Zodiac sign Leo, claiming that it strengthened the brain. It was also used to treat bad memory and vertigo.[1]

Herbalists use eyebright as a poultice with or without concurrent administration of a tea for the redness, swelling, and visual disturbances caused by blepharitis and conjunctivitis. The herb is also used for eyestrain and to relieve inflammation caused by colds, coughs, sinus infections, sore throats and hay fever.

Parts used include the leaf, the stem, and small pieces of the flowers. Typical preparations include a warm compress or tea. Eyebright preparations are also available as an extract or capsule.

Taxonomy and Identification[edit]

The genus Euphrasia is taxonomically complicated due to many species being interfertile and prone to hybridisation. Despite there having been a number of taxonomic revisions [2][3][4] the appropriate rank of many taxa as well as the relationships between them remains unclear.

Selected species[edit]

Euphrasia gibbsiae subsp. subglabrifolia
  • Euphrasia × aequalis
  • Euphrasia alpina
  • Euphrasia alsa F.Muell.
  • Euphrasia anglica Pugsley
  • Euphrasia arctica Lange ex Rostrup
    • Euphrasia arctica ssp. arctica (E.borealis auct. non (F.Towns.) Wettsd.)
    • Euphrasia arctica ssp. borealis (F.Towns)Yeo
  • Euphrasia arguta - believed extinct, rediscovered 2008
  • Euphrasia azorica
  • Euphrasia brevipila
  • Euphrasia calida
  • Euphrasia cambrica Pugsley
  • Euphrasia campbelliae Pugsley
  • Euphrasia collina R.Br. – Purple Eyebright
    • Euphrasia collina ssp. muelleri – Mueller's Eyebright
    • Euphrasia collina ssp. osbornii – Osborn's Eyebright
  • Euphrasia confusa Pugsley
  • Euphrasia crassiuscula Gand
  • Euphrasia fabula
  • Euphrasia fennica
  • Euphrasia foulaensis F. Towns. ex Wettst
  • Euphrasia fragosa – Shy Eyebright, Southport Eyebright
  • Euphrasia frigida Pugsley – Cold-weather Eyebright
  • Euphrasia gibbsiae
    • Euphrasia gibbsiae ssp. psilantherea
  • Euphrasia glabrescens
  • Euprasia grandiflora
  • Euphrasia heslop-harrisonii Pugsley
  • Euphrasia hirtella
  • Euphrasia hudsoniana – Hudson's Eyebright
  • Euphrasia insignis Wettst
  • "Euphrasia kingii"
  • Euphrasia lasianthera – Hairy Eyebright
  • Euphrasia marshallii Pugsley
  • Euphrasia micrantha Rchb.
  • Euphrasia minima
  • Euphrasia nemorosa (Pers.) Wallr. – Common Eyebright
  • Euphrasia oakesii – Oakes' Eyebright
  • Euphrasia ostenfeldii (Pugsley) Yeo
  • Euphrasia parviflora
  • Euphrasia pseudokerneriPugsley – Chalk Eyebright
  • Euphrasia randii – Small Eyebright
  • Euphrasia rivularis Pugsley
  • Euphrasia rostkoviana Hayne – Red Eyebright, "figwort"
  • Euphrasia rotundifolia Pugsley
  • Euphrasia ruptura - extinct
  • Euphrasia salisburgensis Funk.
  • Euphrasia scabra R.Br. – Rough Eyebright
  • Euphrasia scottica Wettst.
  • Euphrasia semipicta – Peninsula Eyebright
  • Euphrasia striata R.Br.
  • Euphrasia stricta D. Wolff ex J.F. Lehm.
  • Euphrasia subarctica – Arctic Eyebright
  • Euphrasia suborbicularis – Roundleaf Eyebright
  • Euphrasia tatrae
  • Euphrasia tetraquetra (Bréb.) Arrond.
  • Euphrasia vernalis
  • Euphrasia × vestita
  • Euphrasia vigursii Davey
  • Euphrasia × villosa
  • Euphrasia vinacea – Glacier Eyebright
  • Euphrasia zelandica
  • Euphrasia sp. 'Bivouac Bay'[5] – Bivouac Bay Eyebright


  1. ^ Howard (1987): p.136
  2. ^ Yeo PF. (1978). "A taxonomic revision of Euphrasia in Europe" Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 77 (4) 223–334
  3. ^ Barker WR.(1982) "Taxonomic Studies in Euphrasia L.(Scrophulariaceae): A Revised Infrageneric Classification, and a Revision of the Genus in Australia" J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 5: 1-304.
  4. ^ Sell PD, Yeo PF. (1970). "A revision of the North American species of Euphrasia L. (Scrophulariaceae)" . Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 63 (3) 189–234,
  5. ^ Also known as Euphrasia sp. 'fabula'; related to but not identical with E. fabula.