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Bacopa Monniere - Papait, Brahmi or Waterhyssop

Updated on August 9, 2019
Bacopa monnieri or water hyssop.
Bacopa monnieri or water hyssop. | Source

Bacopa Monniere - Waterhyssop

Having glossy green leaves, this creeping perennial plant prefers being in a sunny location in wet soil but tolerates part shade areas as well. And with the name giving the hint, waterhyssop is a water loving plant making this a good choice in water gardens and aquariums, with the later reminding me of a relative who has a water fountain outside his yard with waterhyssop. This small herbaceous plant can be found growing by the riverbanks, even in empty fields from my childhood memory as I tag along to my mom harvesting bacopa monniere growing wildly in an empty field where we lived in a farm in the Philippines.

The sleek green leaves are small, oval in shape with green stems that cascades down when planted in a pot. Waterhyssop flowers in a slender pedicel measuring about 1/2 inch. The tiny flowers have five petals that are white to light purple that only lasts for a day.

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Waterhyssop flowers are white to light purple and lasts for a day.Flowers of bacopa monniere has four to five petals.
Waterhyssop flowers are white to light purple and lasts for a day.
Waterhyssop flowers are white to light purple and lasts for a day. | Source
Flowers of bacopa monniere has four to five petals.
Flowers of bacopa monniere has four to five petals. | Source

Young stems grow by the base of its succulent leaves measuring 4-6 mm, and branches out again once the stem matures.

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A new stem starting at the base of a leaf.
A new stem starting at the base of a leaf.
A new stem starting at the base of a leaf. | Source

Common Names for Bacopa Monniere

Common Names
Slender carpetweed
Bitter leaf
Jia fan lu
Indian penyworth
Thyme-leave gratiola
Herb of Grace
A flower that is about to fall off the base.
A flower that is about to fall off the base. | Source

Growing Waterhyssop

With my parents love of gardening, bacopa monniere or papait as we call it is a garden favorite as it doesn't require much attention and caring. Living in a limited space isn't an excuse for not having one and that resulted to having container garden with the available space we have with bacopa monniere in pots.

So how do you plant more waterhyssop or bacopa monniere? If you live in the province where it wildly grows, you are lucky. But if you want to have them around so you can harvest some whenever you feel like including them in your meal, soak papait stems in a glass of water and watch them grow roots and transplant them. Or just plant them directly on the soil through cuttings.

Growing bacopa monniere is easy that anyone can successfully grow more from cuttings. To grow more, take cuttings preferably those with roots and plant them to damp, fertile soil, covering the stems and pressing it lightly before watering. Place the pot in a shady place for the first couple of days. Introduce them to sunny area once they have adapted.

This year, I started growing more waterhyssop from five cuttings with roots. Watch video below for reference on how I did it. The first five cuttings already adapted to the new planter.


Trimming the plant means a fresh harvest for a healthy meal and one way to enjoy waterhyssop is eating it with fried or broiled fish, steamed with slices of tomatoes and fish sauce or with fermented fish called bagoong. Some prefers soy sauce with few drops of lemon juice and adding a little extra like diced green mango. Just a heads up though that waterhyssop tastes bitter.

Another way this plant is consumed is being stir fried with one's choice of veggies. It can be used as well as a substitute to bitter melon in the Filipino dish tinola, although these veggies are not the usual ingredient for the mentioned dish. A relative loves having bitter melon on tinola with either the leaves or fruits and my mom would substitute waterhyssop sometimes when we don't have enough greens to add. Papait can also be added to mung beans.

Despite the bitter taste, some people enjoys sauteed papait with tomatoes and ground meat.

Waterhyssop is known as papait in the Philippines.
Waterhyssop is known as papait in the Philippines. | Source

Health Benefits and Uses

Bacopa monniere or water hyssop is used to treat anemia, worm infestation and even malaria.
The juice is used to sooth itchy skin, and herb is also used in Mali for inflammation and intestinal parasites.
Eating papait or sarsalida can help on lowering blood sugar level.

More Photos of Bacopa Monniere

Summer season means greener water hyssop and as these plants continously grow, they make a beautiful potted plant with tiny flowers. Having bacopa monniere, it withstands cold weather such as winter season in the 50's here in CA but without further growth. It is when the weather becomes warm in the spring season to early summer that this sun and water loving creeper shows growth once again, turning greener with new stems cascading down the pot as they grow.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bacopa monniere in pots. My uncle's backyard garden.Growing sarsalida or bitter leaf for food.
Bacopa monniere in pots. My uncle's backyard garden.
Bacopa monniere in pots. My uncle's backyard garden. | Source
Growing sarsalida or bitter leaf for food.
Growing sarsalida or bitter leaf for food. | Source

Do you know about this herb?

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    • profile image

      Rosalina nanalis 

      4 months ago

      I just received the Papait plant that I ordered. And it’s dufferent with the real papait that I know.

    • profile image


      11 months ago

      thank you for the article,its very helpful to know about this herbal plant

    • precy anza profile imageAUTHOR

      precy anza 

      3 years ago from USA

      Hi Christine. What kind of help? Like you mean you're thinking of a product idea out of this plant? Like a herb capsule maybe? My parents would also consume this plant raw and with chopped tomatoes, chives, and sometimes chopped onions with fish sauce or soy sauce.

    • profile image

      Christine almond 

      3 years ago

      Hello can you i find some help with this plant? Im searching what kind product should i can i do with this amazing plants, i easily recognized this because of my grandmother usually eay this and sauted it with tomatoes and garlic. I want to make it useful to all people, help me guess and search. Thanks!

    • profile image

      roy aragon 

      4 years ago

      the one in the photo and article here (bacopa monnieri), is called "ngalog" in ilokano. this is not the papait (mollugo oppositifolia) of the ilokanos.

      papait is a favorite wild vegetable of mine, it's available all year round and grows in the wild around. i love papait salad with kamatis, bugguong and lasona. it's also good in dinengdeng and boiled mongo. surely it's the bitterest leafy greens there is.

      see these links for some papait dishes:

    • precy anza profile imageAUTHOR

      precy anza 

      5 years ago from USA

      Hi Ronald. Thanks for leaving comment here. Always a pleasure to read comments from guests letting me know they got on my hub. :) Search for bacopa monnieri, the papait plant will show up. I found one that sells the herb but most are powdered.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thank You soo much Precy for making this site! I fount it on ebay the papait herb (but it's Vietnamese bitter herb) but they look the same anyway...

    • precy anza profile imageAUTHOR

      precy anza 

      5 years ago from USA

      Hi Segu:

      Thank you for pointing that out. Yeah, looks more like the first one you said, bacopa monnieri. It is bacopa monnieri. :)

    • profile image

      Segu Mohamed Kasim 

      5 years ago

      The plant shown appears to be either Bacopa monnieri or Portulaca oleracea (Purslane)and not Mullugo oppositifolia. M.oppositifolia will not have uniform leaves and will have profuse flowers with long pedicle on each node.

    • precy anza profile imageAUTHOR

      precy anza 

      5 years ago from USA

      @ Elisa:

      Hi Elisa. I've also heard it was called maligoso :) I too tried and checked out Ebay and Amazon but I cannot find a seller to help you on looking for this plant. I don't think there's a seller online, or if there's is, it was hard to find him/her.

      What I can suggest is, on markets, I read somewhere online that some sellers on market sell some papait plants. But you really need to be on the right market at the right day. :) Or if you have Ilocano neighbors or friends, ask them around maybe they know someone who knows who have the plant or knows where to buy some. We haven't tried planting maligoso by seeds, all our maligoso was from cuttings.

      Hope that helps :) I'll try search more and post a comment again if I found a site.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Hello Precy, Thank you for posting this topic about Papait, we call it Maligoso in my province of Pampanga. I have been looking online for seeds so I can have my own Papait in my garden. How can I purchase some seeds or cuttings to plant?

    • precy anza profile imageAUTHOR

      precy anza 

      6 years ago from USA

      And thank you for stopping by Drbj! ^-^' Maybe one day you'll come across this bitter herb. :)

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      6 years ago from south Florida

      Thanks to you, precy, I am easily becoming more knowledgeable about many Filipino vegetables (and fruits) that you write about - the papait included.

    • precy anza profile imageAUTHOR

      precy anza 

      6 years ago from USA

      Thanks Avian :) We also had used the empty lot for planting vegetables and selling them on the market. Seems like just yesterday. Thanks for stopping by! Have a good evening!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I like how you and your family live off the land. Such good things are out there for free that are so good for you.


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