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Lemon Bacopa
Bacopa caroliniana
Lemon Bacopa
Lemon Bacopa, photographed at the Frances S. Taylor Wildlife Management Area, Broward County, in May 2014.
Lemon Bacopa

Crush the leaves, and you'll know instantly where lemon bacopa, Bacopa caroliniana, gets the first part of its name. Or maybe not, but we'll get to that in a bit.

Lemon Bacopa is native to the southeastern United States from Maryland to Texas, including Florida. It's found throughout the state, including both the Panhandle and the Peninsula.

It's a small plant, growing to about six inches or less, but capable of forming large patches. It's found along the edges of freshwater ponds, marshes and swamps. It can grow in water or in moist soil. In fact, it's grown commercially for use in aquariums. One dealer calls lemon bacopa an "exceptionally undemanding" plant to grow.

The flowers are blue or white and showy, blooming year round. The leaves are on the succulent side; the stems are hairy.

Bacopa is a Latinized version of the name of the plant given to it by natives in French Guiana. There is a close cousin to lemon bacopa called water hyssop found throughout South America, Central America, the Caribbean and the southeast U.S., but it doesn't really look like this plant and it certainly doesn't smell like it.

Although it is native, it can be a bit of a pest and difficult to control especially when growing in farm ponds.

Lemon Bacopa

Green Dean at Eat the Weeds argues that the crushed leaves actually are more limey than lemony and that the correct name should be lime bicopa. In any case, he says that pouring hot water over the crushed leaves makes a nice tea.

The Seminoles used lemon bacopa as a sedative, cough medicine, as a respiratory aid and to treat certain chronic conditions.

While its cousin, B. monnieri, AKA water hyssop, has been widely used in traditional medicine for centuries, particularly in India, and well studied by western scientists, lemon bacopa has been largely overlooked. One study did find that extracts from its leaves do have compounds that have some antifungal and antibacterial properties, including against staph.

Lemon bacopa is a member of Scrophulariaceae, the figwort, or snapdragon, family. Other names include blue water hyssop and lemon hyssop.

Photographs by David Sedore
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