Friday, October 2, 2015

Flower Friday: Breathe in the fresh, clean fragrance of lemon bacopa.

Photo by Eleanor Dietrich
Lemon bacopa (Bacopa caroliniana)
Lemon bacopa (also known as blue waterhyssop) is a low-growing, mat-forming, perennial herbaceous wildflower that grows in very moist to aquatic habitats. Its small but showy, purplish-blue flowers are 5-lobed, tubular and copious. Stems are succulent and hairy. Leaves are succulent, clasping and oppositely arranged. They bear a lemon scent, giving the plant its common name. 

Lemon bacopa typically blooms late spring through fall, but can bloom year-round. It occurs naturally along pond and stream margins, and in swamps, marshes and shallow ditches. 

Photo by Eleanor Dietrich
Lemon bacopa nectar is used by a variety of small pollinators. Its leaves can be steeped in water to make a flavorful, lemony tea.

A close relative of lemon bacopa is the more commonly occurring herb-of-grace (aka waterhyssop) (Bacopa monnieri). Although they look similar and are found in similar habitats, herb-of-grace does not emit a lemon scent. As well, its flowers are pale lavender to white and its leaves are not clasping. Neither Bacopa species are related to hyssop (Hyssopus sp.), which is in the mint (Lamiaceae) family.

Family: Plantaginaceae (Plantain family)
Native range: Nearly throughout Florida
Hardiness: Zones 8–10
Soil: Wet, saturated, slightly acidic soils
Exposure: Full sun to minimal shade
Growth habit: up to 6" tall but widespreading

Propagation: Division, cuttings
Garden tips: Lemon bacopa makes an excellent groundcover in wet or saturated landscapes. It can spread to form large mats.

Lemon bacopa plants are often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants.Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery on your area.

To see where lemon bacopa occurs naturally, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.

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