Weeds of Wednesday: Nootropic or Weed?

Butterfly larval plant, Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area

Herb-of-grace (Bacopa monnieri) is a sprawling succulent herb of wet places — both fresh and brackish — that comes and goes in different places at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area (ORCA), depending upon rainfall. The photo above shows herb-of-grace growing in brackish water on the way to the ORCA Observation Tower.

The genus name, Bacopa, comes from Sanskrit Brahmi, one of the oldest writing systems used in south and central Asia that dates back to the 1st millennium. The species name, monnieri, honors Louis Guillame Le Monnier, a French physician and professor of botany. Brahmi, water hyssop, thyme-leafed gratiola, smooth water hyssop, and Indian pennywort, are also common names for this plant.

Herb-of-grace has a has a long history of medicinal use dating far back into Ayurvedic medical practices. Do a google search for Bacopa monnieri, and you will discover that this plant is a nootropic, a modern “smart drug” that improves cognitive function, with lots and lots of formulations for sale. From some of the hype about this magical “Indian” plant, you would not realize that this herbaceous perennial is native to Florida, ….

You may know — and love — herb-of-grace as an aquarium plant. It will grow in or on the edge of water, as shown in the photo above. Herb-of-grace can be a weed in turf grass and is a sure sign of over-watering.

Herb-of-grace thrives in full sun with lots of water but will tolerate partial sun as long as sufficient moisture is available. During wet years, it grows in moist places in the scrubby pine flatwoods at ORCA on the south side of Oslo Road …

On the north side of Oslo Road, it grows in the “old quarry” area, where rock for U.S. Highway 1 was mined, a pretty shady area not open to the public located just east of the adjacent shopping plaza that sometimes is filled with water …

In full sun and with plenty of water, herb-of-grace forms a really dense mat. It rarely grows to be more than 1 – 2″ in height. Its opposite leaves are oblanceolate (oval-ish), succulent, single-veined, lime green, and pretty tiny (1/8″ inch wide and 5/8″ inch long).

Its lovely small flowers are white or pinkish with 4 or  5 petals

Herb-of-grace is the preferred larval host plant of the white peacock butterfly (Anartia jatrophae shown below …