Brooklime

Veronica beccabunga

Herbs gallery - Brooklime

Common names

  • Brooklime
  • Cow Cress
  • Water Pimpernel

Brooklime is a partially aquatic plant that has juicy, unfilled and crawling stems. The stems of this herb bear roots around the nodes found at regular intervals and every so often they are found to be floating on the water by virtue of having hollow stems. The brooklime plant bears leaves that grow opposed to each other on the slender stems, have a gleaming green hue and oblong shape with smoothed ends. Usually, the leaves have a bulky and plump appearance and are vaguely jagged along the edges.

Brookline plants may be found in abundance in several places, including low or shallow streams, trenches and also along the sides of ponds and other water bodies. This partially aquatic plant grows well under conditions that are also suitable for water mint and watercress varieties. Normally, the entire herb is very soft to touch, but gets a blackish color when it dries up. The brooklime bears numerous flowers growing negligently in clusters between the leaves and the stem. Each bloom is approximately two to four inches long and usually blossoms in pairs. This is contrary to the germander and speedwell varieties that bear only one flower between each pair of leaves on the stem. The flowers first open up in May and continue to blossom in a series almost all through the summer. However, the brooklime blooms are at their best during the May-June period. The flower petals have a brilliant blue hue with veins in a more profound hue. The petals also have a white eye, are oval shaped and usually asymmetrical. Sporadically, one may come across a brooklime plant bearing pinkish hued flowers.

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The brooklime plant possibly got its exact name from the German name Bachbunge bach that denotes a brook and bunge meaning a bunch. Perhaps the name was bestowed on the plant as it is found in abundance along the brooks or streams. However, another section of scientists believe that the plant got its name from the French term beckpunge that denotes 'mouth smart'. This is possibly because the leaves of the brooklime plant has a pungent flavor and was previously consumed by mixing the leaves in salads. Yet again, the name brooklime is found in references made by earlier writers who referred to the Broklempe or Lympe as the genesis of the plant's name. According to this theory, the plant has derived its name from the fact that it grows in lime or muddy brooks. The word lime is Anglo-Saxon and derived from the Latin term limus denoting the soil or mud used in the construction of unsophisticated buildings during the Anglo-Saxon period. Presently, the term lime denotes stones composed of calcium carbonate and is used to prepare mortar. In brief, brooklime seems to have actually got its name from the fact that it grows in calcareous or lime conditions.

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As mentioned before, the brooklime plant is frequently found flourishing beside watercress. The leaves of the plant have a pungent, but somewhat bitter flavor. In earlier times, the leaves of brooklime were eaten as a spring vegetable and also by mixing them with salads. From the medicinal point of view, during the 14th century, herbalists prescribed brooklime to cure gout and swellings in the body. There was a time when the herb was also recommended for healing liver problems.

Parts used

Leaves.

Uses

The entire brooklime plant has numerous uses - both as a food and also medicine. The fleshy leaves of this semi-aquatic plant may be consumed raw or after cooking. The raw leaves of the herb may be mixed with salads or with watercress, another partially aquatic plant that is used as salads, in soups and for garnishing. The leaves of the brooklime plant may also be cooked with along other tasty and aromatic green leafy vegetables. The leaves of this partially aquatic herb have a sharp taste and are very nutritious. However, they are not very pleasant to consume.

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Although the medicinal value of the brooklime plant is not very significant, the whole plant is useful for restoring normal health. The herb is used as an alternative medicine and protects against scurvy, reduces high fever and is emmenagouge as well as slightly diuretic increasing the outflow of urine. In addition, when this herb is added to meals, it functions as a purgative. Herbalists often prescribe the herb to heal scurvy (a disease caused by shortage of vitamin C) and also to cleanse the blood. Moreover, the herb is pounded and made into a poultice to apply externally to heal sores, burns, whitlows (infectivity of the toe and fingers) and other similar problems. Although the brooklime plant's ability to stop bleeding is not significant, in earlier times, herbal medical practitioners used the herb to heal open wounds.

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The juice extracted from the brooklime plant, along with the sap from Seville oranges and scurvy-grass, were once known as the 'spring juice'. This 'spring juice' was held in high esteem in earlier times for their ability to cure scurvy. It may be mentioned here that the brooklime plant has always been a favorite herb for healing scrofulous or diseased conditions, particularly of the skin.

Habitat and cultivation

The brooklime is a very common semi-aquatic plant that is found in abundance in most of the places, including the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia and North Africa. Normally, the plant grows in trenches, close to fresh water ponds and along the banks of streams. The plant grows and thrives easily and well in more or less luxuriant earth, but flourishes in shallow streams or water having a depth of approximately 15 cm. This variety of herb has a preference for breezy summer climes and does not require too much of sunlight. The brooklime plant attracts plenty of bees owing to its cluster of blooms and is sometimes referred to as an 'excellent bee plant'.

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Brooklime is normally propagated through its seeds. The seeds are generally sown in a cold enclosure during the autumn and when the seeds germinate and the seedlings have grown up sufficiently, each of them is carefully pricked and placed in separate pots. Later, during the summer, the plants are placed outside in sunlight. In the event of a person having plenty of brooklime seeds, he may directly sow them in plants' original locations during the spring or the autumn. The plant's division may be done any time during its growing period. Growing the plant from the stem cuttings is quite simple as even a small part of this plant will develop roots when placed in water.

Constituents

Brooklime contains tannin, some sulphur, a special bitter principle, and a pungent volatile oil.

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