days to maturity:
plant spacing: 4 square feet per plant
sunlight requirement: 6 - 14 hours
look out for:
harvest notes: harvest leaves when needed by pruning the tip, it will promote bushy growth
Lippia Alba is a much beloved medicinal plant that grows throughout South & Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean and because of its long standing prevalence in so many countries it goes by about 100 names! In the South Florida medicinal community we just refer to it by its latin name, and because it grows so well its become quite popular with local tropical herbalists. The leaves have a lemony scent and flavor when used in tea, and in parts of Oaxaca its an ingredient in Mole sauce.
The citrus’ scent and essential oil content may help invigorate and awaken you just by smelling the crushed leaves. It also may help you perk up emotionally when drunk as a tea to alleviate depression, anxiety or sadness.
It is traditionally used in Costa Rica to relieve gastrointestinal cramps and spasms and to sedate the GI tract. It's a powerful carminative, meaning it’s a helpful digestive aid, and can be used in bitter tinctures. One of the coolest applications I’ve heard is that when drunk regularly as an infused brew for breastfeeding mamas, it can treat colic or indigestion in babies who receive the medicine through their mother’s breast milk. Our resident herbalist Jules says: “It's a powerful sedative, not that it will knock you out, but it will help you sleep through the night. I love to blend this with passionflower leaves as a warm drink before bed.”
The plant grows to be a small shrub and if left wild has quite a rangy growth pattern because the branches naturally bend and grow downwards after reaching about 4 feet in height. Once a branch reaches the ground it will “ground layer” itself by making roots where the plant touches the ground, and producing another plant. The genus this plant is in, Lippia, has tons of members that do well in South Florida, from the ornamental Lantana to the culinary Moujean Tea. Once you start to recognize the signature flower shape of a Lippia you will be able to identify other relatives yourselves as you learn more about tropical plants.