Brooklime a Herb of of the Beck

Notes from a Lancashire Country Man

Brooklime is a common plant which has an invasive habit. This species has been given my favourite Latin species name of beccabunga. It is probably of Germanic origin back-signifying a brook and bunge alluding to a bunch, or from the Flemish beckpunge meaning mouth smart alluding to the sharp taste, the leaves were once eaten in salads, whichever the case I just love the name which rolls of the tongue.

The common name brooklime also alludes to habitat ie, brook and lime, lime is an old English word for mus, thus a plant that delights to grow in the mud of brooks. It also thrives in the margins of streams, ponds and even lakes. In fact it grows in the same type of habitat as the watercress whose foliage is superficially similar to that of the brooklime. In the margins of a local lake the plant has spread with remarkable rapidity in the last five years or so. Where the margin has silted up in the southern channel the plant has covered a large area. It is possible that an assault on it by the countryside rangers will be required to put a halt on its march.

Invasive habit of Brooklime

Brooklime's invasive habit soon covers large areas if left unchecked. Photograph by D.A.L.
Brooklime's invasive habit soon covers large areas if left unchecked. Photograph by D.A.L.

Basic Biology of Brooklime

The plant has stout , succulent, hollow stems, that root along their length. {see photograph below} where the roots have formed there rises up more erect stems that produce the leaves and flowers. Where the leaves are produce the stem is often tinged with a reddish hue. The foliage on the erect stem parts are short stalked and arranged in opposite pairs. They are oval to oblong in form rather thick and slightly succulent and rough textured. Brooklime has a shiny appearance turning a blackish colour when dried

Flowers---are rather numerous and appear on long stalks from the axil where the leaves join the stem. They are normally a bright blue colour, however, every now and again pink varieties occur. The veins of the petals are of a darker blue colour. There is a white eye in the centre surrounded by a scarlet hue. They are relatively small flowers in comparison with the size of the plant, roughly 5-8mm wide. The flowers are pollinated by insects of which many visit the flowers. They flower from May to September.

Stem of Brooklime

Brooklime-note the roots which have a creeping habit. Photograph by D.A.L.
Brooklime-note the roots which have a creeping habit. Photograph by D.A.L.

Medicinal and Culinary Uses.

--Tannin, volatile oil,bitter principle are the main constituents of brooklime.

Brooklime is now considered of little use as a medicinal herb . However, in the past it was used to cure all kind of afflictions from gout and swellings to burns. It was considered as a mild diuretic.

In culinary preparations ---they can be added to salads, mixed with water cress or cooked with other strongly flavoured greens. Personally I find them a little unpalatable. Conversely I know many people who do find them wholesome and enjoyable.

In the garden This plant attracts wildlife. The plants requirements is wet soil and grows in water. It is a fine marginal plant for ponds and grows well in bog gardens. However, because of its invasive habit it needs to be kept in check. It will also grow well in woodland gardens,and sunny edges. It is a good plant to attract bees.

Propagation--seed may be sown in autumn in a cold frame. When the plants are large enough to handle they may be placed in individual pots. However, the best way is by division which is very easy. Any shoot pulled away will easily grow on.

Brooklime

brooklime growing by the waters edge. Photograph by D.A.L.
brooklime growing by the waters edge. Photograph by D.A.L.
The plant also grows in muddy areas away from water. Photograph by D.A.L.
The plant also grows in muddy areas away from water. Photograph by D.A.L.
The long flower stalks arise from the axil where the leaf joins the stem.Photograph by D.A.L.
The long flower stalks arise from the axil where the leaf joins the stem.Photograph by D.A.L.

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Comments 8 comments

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Hi jill, I know it is common throughout Europe and in parts of Asia. However, I am not sure about your homeland. May be you could find out and let me know. The scientific name of Veronica beccabunga should help you. The scientific names as you know are unique to that plant. Thank you for reading.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

Thanks for this highly informative hub D.A.L.

I'm trying to recall if we have a similar plant here in the Philippines. Would you know if this is endemic there or does it have a wider distribution? I'm not so sure if it is similar to what I saw here.

Thanks for sharing!


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Darlen , hello my friend thank you for your usual kind comments. I agree that plants and trees tend to connect in some way or another.


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

What is so interesting to me is I have always felt that trees and plants grow better when they can connect with other flora. Throughout the winter months I had numerous plants inside the house and they were all but together, enjoying the sunshine to grow. Many of them drop a part of their plant inside the pots next to them, they seem to do better when the are in a group. Just like humans need to connect so does flora and trees. Excellent hub, hundreds of thumb up, and all the about.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

PeggyW, your welcome Thank you for reading and for leaving your comment.

timorous, thank you. You type which ever way you wish my friend.

Hi, Carol, plants are fascinating and always interesting as you know. Thank you for reading.


reddog1027 profile image

reddog1027 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Great hub. I am always interested in how even plants can jump the garden fence and become part of the native landscape.


timorous profile image

timorous 6 years ago from Me to You

Another fine hub D.A.L.(that's difficult to type..can I just type all in lowercase, or DAL without the periods? heheh)

My mum used to have a similarly invasive plant with a similar growth habit. I don't remember what it was called though.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

Interesting! I had never previously heard of this plant. Thanks for introducing it to me.

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