LEMON BACOPA

Also Known As
ENGLISH:
Blue Water Hyssop
Giant Bacopa
Giant Red Bacopa
Lemon Hyssop
Lime Bacopa [a name given by some friends and I]
Water Hyssop
SEMINOLE: swi:katcahiliswa
MICCOSUKEE: okikó:wayikcî 
"The Seminoles call water hyssop swi:katcahiliswa and the Miccosukee refer to the plants as okikó:wayikcî; both are translated as “water puma medicine” (Austin 2004)." [1] 
—


Order:   Lamiales
Family:   Plantaginaceae
Genus:    Bacopa
Species: caroliniana

Florida n c s

Edible Parts
Flower Leaf Caution
Animal Interaction
Butterfly
Other Uses
Mug Medicinal Fragrant
Keep an eye out for this blue-flowering Bacopa in wet areas, and if you find some, make a note where you did, as it is not always easy to find.  Note that Florida's most common other Bacopa species, the unscented Herb-of-Grace, Bacopa monnieri, has white flowers, not blue like Lemon Bacopa. The crushed fresh leaves of Lemon Bacopa emit a strong scent of fresh limes.  The flavor is similar to limes as well. I very much enjoy a simple ten minute infused tea made from the fresh leaves. This tea may relax your nerves, as it contains compounds proven to do so. This species is host to the White Peacock Butterfly, which may be observed laying its eggs on the leaves. Oh, one more thing... the blue flowers are delicately fragrant. 



—CAUTION: webmd gives warnings against the ingestion of the closely related Bacopa monnieri, so I will list them here in case Bacopa caroliniana has similar effects.  Avoid if you are brest-feeding, have a slow heart rate [bradycardia], gastrointestinal tract blockage, ulcers, lung conditions, thyroid disorders, urinary tract obstruction.

EDIBLE LEAVES: "Both species of Bacopa are considered edible and are used in salads and as a seasoning by those with adventurous palates." [1]  Some websites, such as fishpondinfo.com, list it as a seasoning. [7] They have the scent and flavor of fresh limes.
- TEA: The leaf and flowering stem tea has the scent and flavor of limes.  Although some of my wildcrafting friends dry this flowering herb for later use, I much prefer it when the leaves are used fresh. Crush one four inch stem well and pour boiling water onto it in a cup.  Let sit for ten minutes – add some honey if you like… yummy!
—HARVEST TIME: All year.  Freezes may harm the leaves. 
—MEDICINAL USES: Seminoles used it as a cough medicine.  Other tribes used it as “a sedative or treated respiratory ailments with it.” Daniel Austin, in Florida Ethnobotany, writes “the herbs have a number of chemicals including brahmine and bacco-side A (Hocking 1994).  These compounds have been used as nerve tonics in mental disorders, against psychosis, and for epilepsy (Hindus).” 

More Details

—NATIVE TO: The southeastern US, Maryland, south to Texas to Florida.  Within Florida, it occurs in most, if not all, counties.
—HABITAT: Freshwater wet places, wetlands, wet ditches, marshes, swamps, pond edges, sometimes [rarely in my experience] along the edges of slightly brackish water.  Tolerates periods of submersion. It does not tolerate flooding by brackish water well. [9] Found "along shorelines" or "in water less than three feet deep." [1]
—DESCRIPTION: An herbaceous, aquatic, short lived perennial [6] that sprawls along the ground, rising to 6 inches tall. [1] Width: "Extensive mats." [6] It lives, submerged, for periods of time as well.
- PHENOLOGY: Winter dormant. [6]
- STEMS: Succulent stems (and leaves creep to 12 inches, usually 3 – 6 inches tall.  Stems hairy, sort of velvety, on the upper part.  Submerged stems may grow to 3' long, and there have been reports of 12 feet long. [1]
- LEAVES: Opposite, hairy/rough, almost round, thick, succulent. Small, less than 3/4 of an inch. 
- SCENT: The crushed leaves and stems have the scent of fresh pressed limes, not the often-listed scent of lemons, as most writers claim.  The University of Florida describes it as having a "fragrance reminiscent of lemon, lime, anise, or licorice." [1] I wouldn't go that far, and would simply describe it a lime-like. 
- FLOWERS: Blue, showy, five (sometimes 4 or 6) petals, fragrant, occasionally flowering below water (“though they soon rot.”).
- FRUIT: An inconspicuous capsule. [9]
WILDLIFE
: It provides "habitat in wetland enhancement and restoration projects." [1]
- BUTTERFLIES: This plant is the host for the White Peacock Butterfly.
—BIOLUMINESCENCE: “When gold nanoparticles were introduced into Bacopacaroliniana plants they caused the chlorophyll to produce reddish light. While lit, the glowing plants' vegetation consumed more carbon from the atmosphere than normal (i.e. the luminescence causes the cells to undergo photosynthesis).  The Taiwanese research team behind the discovery hopes to implement modified Bacopacaroliniana plants as environmentally friendly street lamps.  Popular Science calls this a "triple threat," in that the "trees" could cut energy costs, reduce global warming and keep streets safely lit at night.”
—POTPOURII: The dried and chopped whole plant is added to potpouriis when a lime scent is desired.
AQUATIC GARDENS: "An attractive native addition to water gardens, aquascapes, and restoration and mitigation projects." [1]
—AQUARIUM & WATER PLANT: This plant is used in the aquarium trade and is planted in water gardens.
ETYMOLOGY: Green Deane writes, “Bacopa is the latinized name the aboriginal Indians called it in what is now French Guiana." [2]
FAMILY CLASSIFICATION: This species has formerly been classified as being within the Figwort family, Scrophulariaceae.  Currently, sources such as the Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants, the Florida Native Plant Society, and theplantlist.org, place it within the Plantain family, Plantaginaceae.  The USDA, however, places it within Scrophularuaceae.
—RELATED SPECIES: Bacopa monnieri, the Herb of Grace (known in India as Brahmi), also grows wild across Florida.  It has white flowers, no lime scent, and is much more common. It has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine to help with memory and such. 
CULTURE:
- HARDINESS: USDA zones 6 - 9. [1] I observe it growing across zone 10 here in Florida.
- SOIL: Regional Conservation writes, "it prefers soils with organic content, but will still grow reasonably well in nutrient poor soils." [9]
- PROPAGATION: By tip cuttings, 3-5" long [1], which are quite easy. There is no "need for rooting hormones." [1]  Also by division. [9] 


Flowering Calendar
J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D


Flower Color
Blue

Habitat
Aquatic Wet Ditches, Pond Edges
Native?
Native


Plant Form
Herbaceous Evergreen Perennial Groundcover

Hardiness Zone
6a to 10b
Light
Part Sun Full Sun
Soil
Sandy Rich Clay
Tolerances
Flood Tolerant
Watering
Wet
Moist


When to Harvest
J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D


Sources for acquiring

A number of native plant nurseries statewide carry this species.  The University of Florida writes, "Lemon Bacopa is widely available from a variety of sources, including stores that carry aquarium plants, water garden supply shops, and nurseries that sell aquatic or native plants." 


References

[1] edis.ifas.ufl.edu/
[2] eattheweeds.com
[3] Florida Ethnobotany 
[4] IFAS  
[5] USDA 
[6] fnps.org [Florida Native Plant Society] 
[7] fishpondinfo.com 
[8] webmd.com 
[9] Regional Conservation 
Last Updated: October 28, 2017

Related Plants in Database

Same Genus:
Bacopa monnieri

Also in Plantaginaceae
Mecardonia procumbens