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The main features
The beccabunga, scientific name Veronica beccabunga L, is a perennial herbaceous medical plant, which belongs to the large Scrofulariacee family. It is very widespread in damp mountain areas, in fact, it resists very well to the most rigid temperatures, it can also be found at an altitude of 2500 meters. In Italy it is widespread especially in the center and in the north, but it is not impossible to find it even in some areas of the south and of the islands. It grows mainly in places rich in water, such as ditches, banks of streams and springs of fresh water. In addition to the name of Beccabunga in some Italian areas, it is also known by the name of trina grass, favassina or eccabonga grass. It is not a particularly large plant, it reaches a maximum of fifty centimeters, on average, however, the stems do not exceed twenty centimeters, but it is well branched and the stem is erect and very solid. The leaves have a bright dark green color, are fleshy and slightly rounded. Being a perennial plant it has a very long life cycle, during the winter the leaves fall, to then sprout again in spring. The flowers are hermaphroditic and have a pale blue color, they develop in small pods grouped in the top of the plant. The plant is devoid of any fragrance and can also be cultivated in the home garden, in fact in addition to growing spontaneously it can also be cultivated by man. The flowering lasts for several months, from spring to autumn, it does not require special care, it only needs direct sun for a few hours a day and to be watered regularly. Flowering takes place around May, but the actual collection of flowers and leaves takes place at the end of spring. Once the flowers and leaves are taken, they must be stored in a dry and dark place, possibly away from the sun. Drying is very delicate because the plant being rich in water can generate mold or fungus if stored incorrectly.
Properties and uses
The plant contains precious active ingredients including veronicina, vitamin C, organic salts, tannin and saponin. It is edible not only for animals but also for humans.
Beccabunga has many properties, one of the most important being its diuretic action. The infusion is beccabunga improves the natural physiological functions of the human body and helps the bladder to function well, keeping it clean and free from waste and toxins. To increase the diuretic action this plant must be taken on an empty stomach in the morning as an infusion. On the market it is very easy to find the dried leaves, which can be added to boiling water to prepare a hot drink.
The beccabunga also has sedative and anti-inflammatory properties and can also be used when bladder inflammation or irritation is present.
The powder obtained from drying has excellent antispasmodic and expectorant properties, in the first case it helps in the treatment of convulsions and involuntary muscle movements, while in the second it helps to clear the respiratory tract from mucus.
This plant is mainly taken orally through decoctions and infusions of herbs and juices. It can also be used for external use in creams with antiseptic, ointment and medication properties.
Being rich in vitamin C, it helps to prevent scurvy, a disease caused by the lack of this precious vitamin, also facilitating the absorption of iron and keeping the bone and connective structure of the body intact and firm.
Among the most precious active ingredients contained in the beccabunga is aucubina, which performs an antibiotic action in cases of chronic bronchitis. This active ingredient is contained in large quantities in the plant and is used mainly by pharmaceutical companies to fight chronic diseases and discomforts related to breathing.
There are no particular contraindications in the use of beccabunga, but we must not exceed in the recommended doses. It is usually advised not to take more than two cups of herbal tea a day, to drink the decoctions slowly, leaving the leaves to infuse for a few minutes.
In addition to the decoctions, to be prepared with boiling water and dried leaves, also beccabunga juice is sold on the market. This preparation is obtained from the cold pressing of the younger leaves and is used as a vitamin C supplement, or in the treatment of inflammation of the respiratory tract. Thanks to the powerful concentration of active ingredients, the juice acts in a targeted manner on the respiratory tract, significantly reducing inflammation.
The beccabunga plant also has cleansing and purifying properties, it can be used in cosmetic treatments to soothe skin infections. It is indicated in the treatment of serious dermatoses, to lighten skin spots, in the case of ulcers and hemorrhoids.
Being an edible plant it can be used in the kitchen as a real food. Having a slightly spicy flavor it can be used in salads and also to season pasta. It can be eaten alone or with other vegetables in mixed salads prepared with carrots, onions, basil and other vegetables. There are some regional recipes such as the "pasta with grass of Tracina", in which this herb is used to flavor tomato sauce, giving the sauce a decisive and spicy taste.
The Latin name of this plant Veronica beccabunga L, is dedicated to Veronica, the woman who, according to the Bible, wiped the sweat of Jesus Christ during the ordeal with the cross. The etymology of the name means "true icon", if you look closely at the stamens of the flower, they remind you of the eyes of a face.
In German it is called Beckebunge, which literally means a brook plant.
In some Celtic legends the beccabunga is often cited as a herbaceous tonic with multiple healing properties. A story related to the territory of Ireland says that one day failing to go out to catch fish some fishermen used this herb as a gimmick and managed to catch giant salmon.
In popular culture it is also called fat grass and watercress. In reality they are wrong names, because they are very different types of herbs, but finding them often close is easy to confuse. To avoid mistakes you can rely on the flavor of these aromatic herbs, the watercress has a bitter and sour taste, while the beccabunga has a decidedly more spicy and pungent taste.