|Centella asiatica subsp. var.||Asiatic Pennywort|
Centella asiatica is a small herbaceous annual plant of the family Mackinlayaceae or subfamily Mackinlayoideae of family Apiaceae, and is native to northern Australia and parts of Asia. Common names include Asiatic Pennywort and Indian Pennywort. An evergreen Perennial growing to 0.2m by 1m.
The stems are slender, creeping stolons, green to reddish green in color, interconnecting one plant to another. It has long-stalked, green, reniform leaves with rounded apices which have smooth texture with palmately netted veins. The leaves are borne on pericladial petioles, around 2 cm. The rootstock consists of rhizomes, growing vertically down. They are creamish in color and covered with root hairs.
The flowers are pinkish to red in color, born in small, rounded bunches (umbels) near the surface of the soil. Each flower is partly enclosed in two green bracts. The hermaphrodite flowers are minute in size (less than 3 mm), with 5-6 corolla lobes per flower. Each flower bears five stamens and two styles. The fruit are densely reticulate, distinguishing it from species of Hydrocotyle which have smooth, ribbed or warty fruit.
The crop matures in three months and the whole plant, including the roots, is harvested manually.
Centella grows along ditches and in low wet areas. In Indian and Southeast Asian centella, the plant frequently suffers from high levels of bacterial contamination, possibly from having been harvested from sewage ditches. Because the plant is aquatic, it is especially sensitive to pollutants in the water, which easily are incorporated into the plant.
It is hardy to zone 8 and is frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from July to August, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist or wet soil.
Prefers a moist to wet soil in sun or partial shade. Plants also grow on walls in the wild and so should tolerate drier conditions[K]. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c. It grows and spreads very well outdoors during the summer in most parts of the country and is very easy to increase by division. It can therefore be grown as a summer crop with divisions being taken during the growing season and overwintered in a greenhouse in case the outdoor plants are killed by winter cold[K].
Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year, after the last expected frosts[K]. Division is simple at any time in the growing season, though the spring is probably best[K]. We find that it is best to pot up the divisions until they are rooting away well, though in selected mild gardens it should be possible to plant the divisions out directly into their permanent positions[K].
Pests and diseases
- ↑ Cadmium,mercury and lead in medicinal herbs in Brazil
- ↑ An Exploration of Current Issues in Botanical Quality-Health Canada
- Plants for a future - source of some of this creative commons text.