Centella

Scientific name

Centella L.

Common names

Asiatic pennywort, centella, goyu cola, goyu kola, Indian pennywort, marsh pennywort, pennyweed, sheeprot, spadeleaf

Family

Araliaceae

Similar genera

Ficaria, Hydrocotyle, Ranunculus

Native distribution

pantropical and subtropical

Species cultivated

Centella asiatica (L.) Urb.

C. cordifolia (Hook.f.) Nannf.

Adventive distribution

tropical and subtropical areas worldwide

Weed status

can be weedy

Habit

small, floating, emergent or terrestrial herb

Brief description

Perennial, stoloniferious. Stems creeping, glabrous to finely pubescent, sometimes purplish, rooting at the nodes. Leaves alternate, often in rosettes; petiole sheathing at base; leaf blade orbicular to reniform; glabrous, or pubescent on abaxial veins or upper portion of petiole; apex round; base cordate; margin sub-entire or crenate; venation palmate. Inflorescence an axillary umbel, solitary or several clustered, loose to capitate, 2-8-flowered; shortly pedunculate; bracts 2. Flowers ± sessile, inconspicuous; petals 4 or 5, ovate to orbicular, apex ± inflexed, white to pink, or purplish.

Natural habitat

shady, wet, grassy places; pastures, meadows, ditches, wetlands, floodplains, on margins of ponds, rivers, and streams

Additional comments

Centella asiatica is cultivated for water gardens and as an important herb of traditional Chinese medicine; often offered incorrectly as C. cordifolia. This genus contains about 50 species.