The Veronica flower belongs to one of the largest genera in the plantaginaceae family – bearing roughly 500 species to its name. Many botanists, though, are seeking to reclassify the hebe genus so that it may be included within the Veronica genus – as their taxonomic features are thought to be quite similar. With hebe included, these plants are made up of perennial plants, herbaceous annuals, as well as small trees and shrubs. The majority of species are native to milder areas of the Northern Hemisphere; however, some may also be seen sprouting in regions of the Southern Hemisphere. These flowers blossom from thick stems that are surrounded by 2 to 3 inch, toothy, oblong-shaped leaves. The heads develop in a raceme of small florets, and may appear in shades of blue, purple, pink and white.
The Veronica flower is steeped in a good deal of storytelling. The origin of their name is a good example of this. When Jesus Christ, bearing the burden of his cross, faltered in his trek to Golgotha, a maiden – taking pity on his struggle – rushed to him and wiped the sweat from his face. In her handkerchief, she saw an impression that was clearly left of his face. She was later christened St. Veronica, and because of her amazing treasure, these blossoms were named after her – as their markings often appear to bear a resemblance to a wise, kindly face. The medicinal uses of the Veronica flower – which range from antistringent to expectorant and diaphoretic – were once linked with religion, as the Christian church felt that this blossom was mankind’s, “one true medicine,” just as Jesus Christ is thought to be mankind’s, “one true savior.” Other stories carry more ominous intonations. It was long believed that the Veronica flower should not be kept indoors. This story varies a bit – one version states that a Veronica blooming within the home marks the death of the mother that lives there. The other version is connected with the wild belief that these plants attract lightening, and that a Veronica in the home during a storm might lead to the house being struck and catching fire.
Despite the deeply religious, and sometimes unearthly tales that have been told of this plant, they are most often considered symbols of marital fidelity. Because of this, they are quite commonly given as gifts on anniversaries and at wedding ceremonies. However, because of their religious associations, it is not uncommon for these plants to be traded during important spiritual events.