Common eyebright is a North American native. It appears in anthropogenic (i.e. human-disturbed)
habitats. It is hemiparasitic: it derives part of its energy by siphoning it from other plants, in this case
the roots of some grasses. The rest comes from photosynthesis as with most plants. The
name “eyebright” reflects its use at one time to treat eye diseases and improve vision.
Plants: 4-15" (10-38 cm) in height, heavily
branched. Usually it is
less than 6" (15 cm) high, and easy to miss.
Leaves: ⅛-½" (5-15 mm) long, sessile, with 7-11
Flowers: Flowers are ¼-½" (8-13 mm) long, generally
tubular, and have bilateral symmetry. Flowers are white or pale lavendar. They are
easily overlooked due to their small size, but close examination reveals purple lines and
a yellow spot in the throat, three notched lower lips, and an upper lip with two lobes.
Fruits: Seeds are ¹/₃₂-¹/₁₆" (1-2 mm) long, and narrowly winged.