Description of variation in the Indian accessions of the medicinal plant Centella asiatica (L.) Urban.
A germplasm collection, comprising 16 accessions of Centella asiatica from different locations in India, was characterized using multivariate approaches. The 16 accessions were found to harbour considerable variation and dispersed into 9 clusters/classes on the basis of principal component and canonical variate analyses of 18 quantitative traits. The number of accessions in the classes varied from 1 to 4 with 5 classes having single accession each. A similar distinction could be seen in the dendrogram constructed from D2 values which demarcated clusters IX and VII from the rest of the accessions and from each other. Perceptible differences could also be discerned in the colour, shape and size of vegetative and floral parts that have been depicted using metroglyph representation. The present study showed the existence of 2 distinct morphotypes in C. asiatica. It was hypothesized that the plant's ability to adapt successfully to a wide range of ecological conditions is the main factor underlying the extent of its genetic variability.