Herb-of-Grace, Beach Botany

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Naming plants is like naming horses. I have no idea where that name came from. Herb-of-Grace, Bacopa monnieri, is an aquatic perennial. This plant is a low growing, mat forming herb that thrives on saturated soils. Numerous stem roots are put down by nodes. Stem length is 4” to 12”. Width is 2mm. Ovate to oblong succulent leaves are opposite on the stems. Leaf length ¼” to 1” and 3 to 8 mm wide. Leaves are sessile with one main vein. Margins entire. Overall height of the mat is about  2.”

Small flowers grow from leaf axils. Long pedicles lift the flowers above the leafy mat. Inflorescence is solitary. Corolla is tubular with five equal sized white petals and 4 stamens. Corolla rests on a calyx with 4-5 unequal green sepals. Flower diameter about ¼”.  Fruit is a capsule 5mm long. Blooming occurs all year.

The genus Bacopa has two other native species. The two other species has a lemon fragrance when leaves are crushed. Monnieri does not have that lemon odor. Monnieri’s habitats are ponds, streams, forested wetlands, marshes and wet prairies in almost every county in the State except a few in the panhandle. The picture with the flowers was taken on a very large mat in the Lakes Park Recreation Park.

 

Photo by James Rodwell