Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the January 31, 2016 Newsletter issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort beside Chichén Itzá Ruins, central Yucatán MÉXICO

Beside the road, two waist-high, slender stems leaned from the brush toward the opening's light, so tangled among stems and leaves of other plants that getting a decent picture of the plant's form wasn't possible. However, below you can see one of its small, neatly toothed, warty-hairy leaves:


It wasn't the leaves that caught my attention, however, but rather the small flowers, white with pink markings, and curiously flattened from the top. Below, you can see a head-on view of such a flower, a dew-covered one with long hairs carpeting the corolla's flat-bottomed throat:

Goatweed, CAPRARIA FRUTESCENS, flower from front

The flowers' corollas were so loosely attached that a slight shake of the stem caused them to fall from their calyxes. Below, you can see a corolla that has just fallen onto herbage below it, leaving behind a translucent style tipped with a white stigma:

Goatweed, CAPRARIA FRUTESCENS, side view

The bilaterally symmetrical flower shape with four stamens inside -- five is a much more common number for such a corolla -- with the stamens of two different lengths, along with the capsular-type fruits with conspicuous styles remaining atop the ovaries as the ovaries mature, along with the plant's general shape, all suggested to me the Figwort or Snapdragon Family, the Scrophulariaceae. That family is well represented up North but in the tropics is less well known. Recognizing the family, and finding few species in that family listed for the Yucatan, it was easy to figure out the plant's identity.

It's one of several plants known as Goatweed, CAPRARIA FRUTESCENS. Three Capraria species occur in the Yucatan, one only in the southern part beyond us, but the other, Capraria biflora, we profiled in 2011. You might enjoy comparing the two species -- the "variations on a Goatweed theme" thing. That species is shown at http://www.backyardnature.net/yucatan/goatweed.htm.

The other Goatweed's flowers are on longer stems, or pedicels, and not nearly as flattened.

Capraria frutescens is distributed from Texas south through Mexico to the Yucatan and Belize.

I read that Capraria frutescens is used medicinally for coughs and sore wounds.