What is that Lawn Ornament? The Benefits of Bacopa!

Blog Series Headline photo
A handful of the “lawn ornaments” that will be featured in this blog series. Top row (left to right): sunshine mimosa, perennial peanut, frogfruit, and fleabane. Bottom row (left to right): pennywort, Lobelia, Florida snow, and blue-eyed grass.

Welcome to our Lawn Ornament blog series, where we explore the plethora of micro-plants that can help create a biodiverse, predominantly green, yet also delightfully colorful lawn that requires much less maintenance than a traditional grass lawn.

Many homeowners find it difficult and costly to maintain a “traditional” lawn, one largely dominated by a single grass cultivar. Embracing a biodiverse landscape can ease the frustration and save money, with the added bonus of providing ecological benefits. This “Lawn Ornament” series will provide a road map to that goal. Along the way, we’ll showcase volunteer “weeds” and commercially available ground covers that can improve upon the biodiversity of our lawns. We will also offer you tips and techniques to adopt and embrace this biodiverse approach. Breaking free from tradition, we can transform yards and neighborhoods to vibrant, beautiful mixed-mowable ecosystems.

Make sure to check out the Starter Guide: Embracing Lawn Ornaments: A Starter Guide

White Peacock Butterfly in a person's hand.
The white peacock butterfly hosts on Bacopa monnieri, along with frogfruit, another lawn ornament plant.

In the vibrant landscape of Florida, dainty Bacopa monnieri, commonly known as herb-of-grace or Brahmi, can be a hidden gem for lawn ornament enthusiasts. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, this ornamental plant has numerous ecological benefits and serves as a valuable addition to your landscape’s biodiversity. It is native to Florida, but it is also pantropical, and in other cultures it has been an important ethnobotanical medicine that modern medicine is now exploring!

Let’s explore where Bacopa should be planted, it’s ecological benefits, landscape benefits, erosion benefits, and traditional ethnobotanical uses, and delve into modern medicines promising research into this plant.

Ideal growing conditions

Bacopa monnieri finds its optimal habitat in depressions, swales, ditches, rain gardens, and at the edges of ponds. These low-lying, wet areas provide the perfect conditions for the plant to flourish. The ability to thrive in these environments, where most traditional turfs will drown, makes it an excellent choice to add into your landscape in the right place.

Ecological benefits

One of the standout features of Bacopa monnieri is its role as the favorite host plant for the white peacock butterfly (Anartia jatrophae). If you have this plant growing in your landscape, it won’t be long before you have dozens of butterflies fluttering about. Herb-of-grace also provides great forage for native pollinators with its numerous flowers. These wildlife benefits reinforce the importance of incorporating native plants into our landscapes to support the broader ecosystem.

A community pond that has suffered from erosion due to the lack of a low maintenance zone.
A community pond that has suffered from erosion due to the lack of a low maintenance zone.

Flowers and foliage

The allure of Bacopa monnieri lies in its delicate flowers and succulent-like leaves. It is commonly used as an ornamental plant and in the aquarium industry for these traits. The flowers are white with hints of pink and lavender. The succulent foliage adds texture to the landscape, creating a visually appealing contrast to other traditional lawn plants. This makes herb-of-grace an excellent choice for those seeking to diversify wet areas in their lawns with unique and eye-catching elements.

Stormwater pond buffer

Bacopa monnieri is emerging as a beneficial plant for mitigating erosion around stormwater ponds. The plant’s foliage and root system, growing where grass cannot, helps stabilize soil, helping maintain the integrity of the pond’s banks. Introducing herb-of-grace along with other perennial wetland plants in a 10- to 20-foot low-maintenance buffer around stormwater ponds not only enhances the visual aesthetics but also provides an eco-friendly solution to erosion control.

Regular mowing of vegetation along shorelines can contribute to erosion over time.  Utilizing low-maintenance plants like Bacopa to create watercourse buffers will help to reduce costly erosion control efforts, like the geotube shown in the stormwater pond image.

Ethnobotanical uses

The names “brahmi” and “herb-of-grace,” come from the plant’s ethnobotanical roots. Including its extensive use in ayurvedic medicine. Ayurvedic practitioners often prescribe Bacopa for memory improvement, insomnia, epilepsy, and anxiety, establishing its traditional use as a calming cognitive enhancer. Clinical studies have supported these traditional uses, demonstrating measurable enhancements in verbal learning, memory acquisition, delayed word recall, and anxiety reduction after several weeks of supplementation. These studies have not resulted in approval by the Food and Drug Administration for health supplement uses, as of yet. So that approval should be considered before you try consuming the plant.

It should be noted that no major ill effects have been recorded either, thankfully. It has been found to not cause any toxicity to mammals even in extreme doses. As the scientific community continues to unravel the mechanisms of action, maybe this plant will become a source of important medicines in the future. Joining the ranks of other important ethnobotanical plants in Florida, such as willow, which was the initial source of Aspirin.

All information in the preceding paragraph comes from National Institutes of Health (NIH) website. We do not advocate the consumption of this plant. This is an educational piece covering the historical and modern usages of the plant.

Bacopa growing in a depression in the field next to the UF/IFAS Extension Office.
Bacopa growing in a depression in the mowed field next to the UF/IFAS Extension Office.


From herb-of-grace’s ecological benefits as a host plant for butterflies to its aesthetic appeal and erosion-preventing qualities, this versatile plant has the potential to transform outdoor spaces into vibrant and sustainable havens. Embracing Bacopa monnieri in our landscapes and lawns will not only add beauty, but also contribute to the preservation of Florida’s unique and delicate ecosystems.

Declaration of Generative AI and AI-assisted technologies in the writing process
During the preparation of this work, the author used ChatGPT to help build the blog post. After using this tool/service, the author reviewed and edited the content, and takes full responsibility for the content of the publication.

Forest Hecker, Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Community Educator for Sarasota County's UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability Department.Ashley Ellis, Residential Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator in Sarasota County.
Posted: December 15, 2023

Category: Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Home Landscapes, Lawn
Tags: FFL, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Horticulture, Landscape, Landscaping, Pgm_HortRes

Subscribe For More Great Content

IFAS Blogs Categories