Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Centella asiatica
(Asiatic pennywort)

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Datasheet

Centella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 14 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Centella asiatica
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Asiatic pennywort
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • C. asiatica is a low-growing perennial with a pan-tropical distribution. It can spread to form a dense ground cover, desirable in some situations but unwelcome in others. It is recorded as invasive in a number...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Centella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort); habit, showing leaves and flowers. Thot, Can Tho, Vietnam. December, 2013.
TitleHabit
CaptionCentella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort); habit, showing leaves and flowers. Thot, Can Tho, Vietnam. December, 2013.
Copyright©Bùi Thụy Đào Nguyên/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Centella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort); habit, showing leaves and flowers. Thot, Can Tho, Vietnam. December, 2013.
HabitCentella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort); habit, showing leaves and flowers. Thot, Can Tho, Vietnam. December, 2013.©Bùi Thụy Đào Nguyên/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Centella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort); habit. USA.
TitleHabit
CaptionCentella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort); habit. USA.
Copyright©John D. Byrd/Mississippi State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Centella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort); habit. USA.
HabitCentella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort); habit. USA.©John D. Byrd/Mississippi State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Centella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort); infestation, showing leaves. Waikapu Valley, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2012.
TitleInfestation
CaptionCentella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort); infestation, showing leaves. Waikapu Valley, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2012.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Centella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort); infestation, showing leaves. Waikapu Valley, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2012.
InfestationCentella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort); infestation, showing leaves. Waikapu Valley, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2012.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Centella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort); close-up of  leaf. Wahinepee, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August, 2002.
TitleLeaf
CaptionCentella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort); close-up of leaf. Wahinepee, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August, 2002.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Centella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort); close-up of  leaf. Wahinepee, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August, 2002.
LeafCentella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort); close-up of leaf. Wahinepee, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August, 2002.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Centella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort); infestation, close-up of leaf in habitat. West Maui, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2009.
TitleLeaf
CaptionCentella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort); infestation, close-up of leaf in habitat. West Maui, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2009.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Centella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort); infestation, close-up of leaf in habitat. West Maui, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2009.
LeafCentella asiatica (Asiatic pennywort); infestation, close-up of leaf in habitat. West Maui, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2009.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Centella asiatica (L.) Urb.

Preferred Common Name

  • Asiatic pennywort

Other Scientific Names

  • Centella boninensis Nakai ex Tuyama
  • Centella coriacea Nannf.
  • Centella erecta (L. f.) Fernald
  • Centella glochidiata (Benth.) Drude
  • Centella hirtella Nannf.
  • Centella repanda (Pers.) Small
  • Centella tussilaginifolia (Baker) Domin
  • Centella ulugurensis (Engl.) Domin
  • Centella uniflora (Colenso) Nannf.
  • Chondrocarpus asiaticus Nutt.
  • Chondrocarpus triflorus Nutt.
  • Glyceria asiatica Nutt.
  • Glyceria triflora Nutt.
  • Hydrocotyle asiatica L.
  • Hydrocotyle biflora P. Vell.
  • Hydrocotyle brasiliensis Scheidw. ex Otto & F. Dietr.
  • Hydrocotyle brevipedata St. Lager & St.-Lag
  • Hydrocotyle ficarifolia Stokes
  • Hydrocotyle ficarioides Lam.
  • Hydrocotyle inaequipes DC.
  • Hydrocotyle lurida Hance
  • Hydrocotyle nummularioides A. Rich
  • Hydrocotyle reniformis Walte
  • Hydrocotyle repanda Pers.
  • Hydrocotyle sylvicola E. Jacob Cordemoy
  • Hydrocotyle triflora Ruiz & Pav
  • Hydrocotyle tussilaginifolia Baker
  • Hydrocotyle uniflora Colenso

International Common Names

  • English: centella; goyu cola; goyu kola; Indian pennywort; marsh pennywort; pennyweed; sheeprot; spadeleaf
  • Spanish: hierba de clavo; sombrerito
  • French: écuelle d’eau; fausse violette; hydroctyle asiatique
  • Chinese: ji xue cao

Local Common Names

  • Bangladesh: pahartali
  • Cook Islands: kapukapu
  • Cuba: oreja de raton
  • Fiji: tatandra; tododro; totono
  • Germany: Asiatische Sumpfpfennigkraut
  • India: brahmi
  • India/West Bengal: thankuni
  • Japan: tsubokusa; tsubo-kusa
  • Sweden: sallatsspikblad
  • Thailand: buabok
  • USA: coinwort
  • USA/Hawaii: pohe kula

EPPO code

  • CLLAS (Centella asiatica)

Summary of Invasiveness

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C. asiatica is a low-growing perennial with a pan-tropical distribution. It can spread to form a dense ground cover, desirable in some situations but unwelcome in others. It is recorded as invasive in a number of Pacific islands to which it has been introduced and is classed as High Risk (score 7) by PIER (2014), but the situations in which it is causing problems are not clear. It is not especially competitive in crops but may affect wild vegetation and biodiversity. C. asiatica is also among a number of species invasive in the Dongting Lake wetlands, Hunan province, China (Hou et al., 2011).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Apiales
  •                         Family: Apiaceae
  •                             Genus: Centella
  •                                 Species: Centella asiatica

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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C. asiatica has been known by a wide range of synonyms but only Hydrocotyle asiatica is still occasionally used. Both genera have sometimes been referred to the family Hydrocotylaceae but are now included in Apiaceae (= Umbelliferae).

Floridata (2014) suggested that material previously known as C. asiatica in USA is in fact a separate species C. erecta (= C. repanda). This is based on the paper by Fernald (1940), who established this name. US sources currently make the distinction, listing C. erecta as native in a number of states, and C. asiatica as introduced in Florida and Oregon only. As there is still some doubt and disagreement concerning this possible split, and as it has not been possible to trace any key describing the differences, for the purposes of this datasheet C. erecta is treated as a synonym of C. asiatica.

C. asiatica is a highly variable species and there has been much selection of types for medicinal and other uses. Some are registered as commercial varieties, such as cultivars Kayakirti and Majjaposhak in India (Mathur et al., 1999).

Description

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Adapted from Flora Zambesiaca (2014):

Perennial creeping herb, rooting at the nodes, but sometimes forming a large taproot. Stem terete, with shallow grooves, sometimes purplish. Leaves solitary or in groups of up to 5, pubescent or glabrous; lamina 1–7 cm. wide, reniform to almost orbicular, with a deep basal sinus; margin crenate, glabrous or with scattered hairs on upper part of petiole (petiole sometimes densely hairy when young). Umbels subcapitate; peduncles 1·5–5 cm. long, glabrous or pubescent, usually much shorter than the subtending petiole. Flowers 2–8, inconspicuous, hermaphrodite, with an involucre of 2 ovate, membranous, persistent bracts. Pedicels slender or obsolete; petals 5, dark crimson to greenish-white, 1 mm, orbicular with a slender inflexed point. Calyx teeth and stylopodium obsolete; styles short, ± divergent. Fruit 3·5 × 3 mm., orbicular to ellipsoid, brown at maturity, deeply constricted at the commissure and flattened laterally, primary ribs prominent when ripe, secondary ribs ± evident; carpophore entire, splitting in two at maturity with a seed in each half.

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated

Distribution

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According to USDA-ARS (2014), C. asiatica is native across much of tropical Africa, Asia, Australia, South America and some islands in the Pacific. Other sources including PIER (2014) indicate that it originates from Asia but is now pan-tropical.

C. asiatica has more recently been introduced to further islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and some temperate countries of Europe and western Asia. There are a number of Pacific islands where it is known to occur but there is no certainty whether it is native or introduced.

C. asiatica is listed as introduced to Florida and Texas in USA (USDA-NRCS, 2014) but there is confusion with the native C. erecta, which is here treated as a synonym (see Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature). Hence all USA records are treated here as native.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

ArmeniaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
AzerbaijanPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
BangladeshPresentNativeIslam et al., 2013
BhutanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
CambodiaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
Chagos ArchipelagoPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
ChinaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-AnhuiPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-FujianPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-GuangdongPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-GuangxiPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-HubeiPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-HunanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-JiangsuPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-JiangxiPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-ShaanxiPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-SichuanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-YunnanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-ZhejiangPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)PresentNativeGBIF, 2014
Georgia (Republic of)PresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
IndiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-SikkimPresentNativeWatson, 1999
-West BengalPresentNativeGrierson and Long, 1999
IndonesiaPresentNativePIER, 2014
IranPresentNativeWHO, 1999
JapanPresentNativePIER, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014Ogasawara islands
Korea, DPRPresentNativePIER, 2014
Korea, Republic ofPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
LaosPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
MalaysiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
MongoliaPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
MyanmarPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
NepalPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
PakistanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
PhilippinesPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
Saudi ArabiaPresentNativeEOL, 2014
SingaporePresentNativePIER, 2014
Sri LankaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
TaiwanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
ThailandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
VietnamPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
YemenPresentNativeEOL, 2014; GBIF, 2014

Africa

AngolaPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
BeninPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
BotswanaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
Burkina FasoPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
BurundiPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
CameroonPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
ComorosPresentGBIF, 2014
Côte d'IvoirePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
Equatorial GuineaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
EthiopiaPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
GabonPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
GhanaPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
GuineaPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
Guinea-BissauPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
KenyaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
LesothoPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
LiberiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
MadagascarPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
MalawiPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
MaliPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
MauritiusPresentGBIF, 2014
MayottePresentNativeGBIF, 2014
MozambiquePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
NamibiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
NigerPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
NigeriaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
RéunionPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
Saint HelenaPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
SenegalPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
SeychellesPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
Sierra LeonePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
SomaliaPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
South AfricaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
SwazilandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
TanzaniaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
TogoPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
UgandaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
ZambiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
ZimbabwePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014

North America

MexicoPresentGBIF, 2014
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AlabamaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014As C. erecta
-ArkansasPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014As C. erecta
-DelawarePresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014As C. erecta
-FloridaPresentUSDA-NRCS, 2014As C. erecta and C. asiatica
-GeorgiaPresentUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014Hawai’I, Kaua’I, Lana’Ii, Maui, Moloka’I and O’ahu islands
-LouisianaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014As C. erecta
-MarylandPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014As C. erecta
-MississippiPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014As C. erecta
-New JerseyPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014As C. erecta
-North CarolinaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014As C. erecta
-OregonPresentUSDA-NRCS, 2014C. erecta and C. asiatica
-South CarolinaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014As C. erecta
-TexasPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014As C. erecta
-VirginiaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014As C. erecta

Central America and Caribbean

BahamasPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
BelizePresentNativeGBIF, 2014
CubaPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
DominicaPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
Dominican RepublicPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
El SalvadorPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
GuatemalaPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
JamaicaPresentNativeFernald, 1940
Puerto RicoPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
Trinidad and TobagoPresentNativeGBIF, 2014

South America

ArgentinaPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
BrazilPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-AlagoasPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
-BahiaPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
-Espirito SantoPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
-Minas GeraisPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
-ParanaPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
-Rio de JaneiroPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
-Rio Grande do SulPresentNative
-Santa CatarinaPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
-Sao PauloPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
ChilePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014And Juan Fernandez islands
ColombiaPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
EcuadorPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014Galapagos Islands
ParaguayPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
PeruPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
UruguayPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
VenezuelaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014

Europe

LiechtensteinPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2014
NorwayPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
Russian FederationPresentGBIF, 2014

Oceania

American SamoaPresentIntroducedPIER, 2014Ofu, Olosega, Ta’u, Tutuila islands
AustraliaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-Lord Howe Is.PresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
-New South WalesPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-QueenslandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
Cook IslandsPresentPIER, 2014Raratonga, Mangaia, Ma’uke, and Miti’aro islands
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014Fatu Hiva, Hiva Oa, Nuku Hiva, Maupiti, MooreaRaiatea, Tahiti, Raivavae, Rapa, Rimatara, Rurutu and Ua Huka islands
GuamPresentNativePIER, 2014
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014Ailinglaplap, Ebon,Jauit, Kwajalein, Namu, Ujae, Ailuk, Arno, Aur, Likiep, Majuro, Mejit, Mili, Utirik and Wotje islands
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentNativePIER, 2014Etal, Lukunor, Namoluk, Pis, Puluwat, Satawan, Weno, KosraePohnpei, Fais, Faraulep, Ifalik, Ulithi, Woleai and Yap islands
New CaledoniaPIER, 2014
New ZealandPresentNativeGBIF, 2014
NiuePresentIntroduced Invasive GBIF, 2014
Norfolk IslandPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentNativePIER, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014Agrigan, lamagan,Anatahan, Pagan. Rota, Saipan, Sarigan islands
PalauPresentNativePIER, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014Tobi, Angaur, Babeldaob, Kayangel, Koror,Ngerkebesang, Merir, Pulo Ana, Sonsorol islands
Papua New GuineaPIER, 2014Bismark, Bouganville islands
SamoaPIER, 2014
Solomon IslandsPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
TongaPIER, 2014Kao, Tonga, Eua, Tongatapu, Tafahi and Vava’u islands
TuvaluPIER, 2014
VanuatuPIER, 2014
Wallis and Futuna IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014

Risk of Introduction

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Considering its widespread use and popularity as a medicinal herb (see Uses), there are clear risks of its introduction to further territories for such use. Even in Hawaii, where it is noted as an invasive weed, it is available from a local plant nursery (Hawaiian Tropical Plant Nursery, 2014).

Habitat

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C. asiatica is a plant of relatively wet habitats, such as pastures, meadows, ditches, riversides, ponds, wetlands, wet forest, roadsides, in plantation crops and some annual crops including rice, from 300-1450 m altitude (PIER, 2014; IUCN, 2015). It is adapted to partial shade but also thrives in full sun.

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details
Riverbanks Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Wetlands Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Principal habitat Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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C. asiatica is recorded as a weed in rice paddies, various plantation crops and forestry, but there are no indications of serious crop loss due to C. asiatica. Where it is listed as invasive, some native species are being impacted but little detail has been seen. In Hawaii, C. asiatica is among introduced species which have contributed to the decline of native sedges Carex thunbergii and Carex echinata (University of Hawaii, 1991).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Camellia sinensis (tea)TheaceaeOther
Oryza sativa (rice)PoaceaeMain

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

Reported chromosome numbers include 2n = 18, 36, 54 (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014).

Rakotondralambo et al. (2013) confirmed the presence of both diploid and tetraploid populations in Madagascar and measured differences in triterpenoid levels. A deliberately induced tetraploid line has been shown to have greater dry weight, larger leaves and increased content of triterpenoids (Thong-on et al., 2014).

A number of studies have confirmed the considerable variation across different populations of C. asiatica, including in China (Zhang et al., 2012) and in India (Mathur et al., 2003).

In leaf transcriptome studies, results from gene ontology and functional annotation of sequences resulted in the identification of genes related to different sets of cellular functions, including identification of genes related to primary and secondary metabolism (Sangwan et al., 2013).

Reproductive Biology

C. asiatica reproduces by seed and by its far-reaching runners, which root at the nodes and can survive separation from the parent plant (Floridata, 2014). C. asiatica  is pollinated by insects (PFAF, 2015).

Singh and Singh (2002) compared the growth rates of seedlings and individual ramets from established plants and concluded that the latter are the more important in maintaining and extending populations at the local level.

In relation to its value as a medicinal plant and concern at the possible loss of useful ecotypes, a number of authors (e.g. Hanumantharaya et al., 2010; Joshi et al., 2013) have reported methods for in vitro plantlet regeneration via callus-mediated organogenesis from leaf and stem explants. Gandi and Giri (2012) also reported the successful transformation of C. asiatica using Agrobacterium rhizogenes 8196.

Physiology and Phenology   

Fresh seeds tend to be dormant for about two months but are then able to germinate at 25-30°C, with best germination in red or white light (Devkota and Jha, 2010a). Germination was seriously inhibited by salinity (NaCl at 6500 ppm) (Devkota and Jha, 2010a).

Nutrition

Under artificial shade net condition, 100:50:0 kg NPK/ha was found optimum for growth of C. asiatica (Krishnamurthy et al., 2006). In a pot study, Devkota and Jha (2013) compared different ratios of urea and farmyard manure and found the optimum to be a 50:50 mixture of the two.

Associations

An area of low-lying (5-3000 m altitude) grazed Zoysia japonica grassland in northwest Kyushu, Japan, was recognized as a new association of Zoysia japonica,  characterized by the presence of C. asiatica and Lespedeza cuneata var. serpens (Itow, 1970).

Environmental Requirements

C. asiatica prefers damp habitats (IUCN, 2015). It can tolerate partial shade but also grows in full sun. Devkota and Jha (2010b) recorded highest biomass under 30% shading but found that root systems were strongest in full sunlight. Growth was reduced at 50 and 70% shading.

C. asiatica will grow on a wide range of soil types, including clay, but favours lighter soils with clay content below 50% (Devkota and Jha, 2014).

C. asiatica grown under the shade of a mango orchard produced dry yield of 5.52 tonnes/ha from six coppicings per hectare in two years. Under artificial shade, 100:50:0 kg NPK/ha was found to be optimal, recording a maximum dry weight yield of 2.16 tonnes/ha per year (Krishnamurthy et al., 2006).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Tolerated Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
45 40

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • impeded
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Aphelenchus avenae Herbivore Roots
Cochliobolus geniculatus Pathogen
Helicotylenchus dihystera Herbivore Roots
Rotylenchulus reniformis Herbivore Roots
Tylenchorhynchus mashhoodi Herbivore Roots
Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris Pathogen

Notes on Natural Enemies

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In India, Cercospora centellae, Pseudomonas solanacearum, Cochliobolus geniculatus and Alternaria sp. have all been recorded on C. asiatica (Choudhury et al., 2012).

Devi (2009) recorded 21 nematode species on C. asiatica in Manipur, India, the commonest of which are listed in the table above.

Although not showing adverse reaction to infection by Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris, C. asiatica acts as an alternate host and can be a source of infection for cruciferous crops (Kishun and Chand, 1988).

A number of other natural enemies are listed in the Table. None are thought to be especially damaging.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Accidental Introduction

Accidental introduction may occur on a local basis via garden waste, or contamination of nursery stock.

Intentional Introduction

As a highly favoured medicinal plant, intentional introduction has no doubt been at least partly responsible for the spread of C. asiatica over many centuries.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Escape from confinement or garden escape Yes
Garden waste disposal Yes
Medicinal use Yes Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Machinery and equipment Yes
Plants or parts of plants Yes Yes

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Negative
Human health Positive and negative

Economic Impact

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C. asiatica is a widespread and very common weed in plantation crops, sometimes dominant, but rarely reported as causing significant crop damage. Crops in which it has been reported include tea-tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) in Australia (Virtue et al., 1993); lawns and turf in China (Lin et al., 2004); rice in India (e.g. Subudhi and Dixit, 1998), and orchids in USA (Crabtree, 1963).

It is generally regarded as a weed in tea plantations in India (e.g. Haridas and Sharma, 1973), though Perera (1955) considered it safe to use as a ground cover in the crop.

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

No information could be found to suggest C. asiatica causes serious change to habitats.

Impact on Biodiversity

C. asiatica can become quite dominant and smother low-growing vegetation, which can sometimes include species which are endangered or otherwise of special interest. In Hawaii, C. asiatica is among introduced species which have contributed to the decline of native sedges Carex thunbergii and Carex echinata (University of Hawaii, 1991).

Social Impact

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Although C. asiatica is the basis for ointments for skin diseases, handling the plant may cause skin irritation or even violent allergic reaction in some individuals, as described by Gomes et al. (2010). The pollen may also cause allergic reaction (Dave’s Garden, 2014).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts forestry
  • Negatively impacts human health
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - smothering

Uses

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Social Value

C. asiatica is very widely used as a fresh vegetable, for example in northern Laos (Kosaka et al., 2013) and in Bangladesh, where Islam et al. (2013) recorded favourably high levels of copper in C. asiatica.

C. asiatica is, however, known mainly for its medicinal uses. It is an important crop in Madagascar, where it is collected in the wild for its triterpenic glycoside compounds (Rakotondralambo et al., 2013). In the USA it is increasingly popular as a dietary supplement, where it is commonly available and sold as Gotu kola, Asiatic penny, Hydrocotyle or Brahmi  (Techen et al., 2011).

There is a vast literature on the medicinal and other uses reviewed by WHO (1999): http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/en/d/Js2200e/10.html#Js2200e.10. Medicinal uses supported by clinical data include the treatment of wounds, burns and stomach ulcers.

Chong and Aziz (2013), in a detailed review of published evidence, concluded that C. asiatica may be beneficial for improving signs and symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI); however, this conclusion needs to be interpreted with caution as most of the studies were characterised by inadequate reporting. European Medicines Association (2014) concluded that the clinical efficacy of C. asiatica extract in the treatment of (CVI) was shown in different clinical studies, and reported no drug-related serious adverse events during the clinical trials.

Taghizadeh et al. (2004) reported major clinical indications for the use of C. asiatica in humans for the treatment of wounds, venous insufficiency of the limbs, certain mycobacterial infections and cellulitis.

There are further reviews of medicinal and other uses of C. asiatica by Jamil et al. (2007) and Gohil et al. (2010).

Other uses include potential as a monitor of barium and arsenic pollution in soil (Ong et al., 2013a,b).

Uses List

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Human food and beverage

  • Vegetable

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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This species is very similar in habit and appearance to, and is sometimes mistaken for, Dichondrarepens (Convolvulaceae) but the latter has more conspicuous 5-petalled white flowers and a less crenate leaf margin.

Hydrocotyle asiatica is still occasionally used as a synonym of C. asiatica, but Centella spp. are distinguished by the presence of small bracts subtending the umbels, absent in Hydrocotyle.

Prevention and Control

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Cultural Control and Sanitary Measures

Care is needed in the disposal of waste from gardens or plantations where the plant has been removed mechanically.

Physical/Mechanical Control

There are few specific reports but mechanical control by hoeing should be effective provided the loose plant material is removed to prevent re-establishment from the ramets.

Chemical Control

Tsai et al. (1987) reported C. asiatica susceptibility to glyphosate. Crabtree (1963) reported susceptibility to diuron, linuron and atrazine. Rochecouste and Vaughan (1963) reported it as resistant to MCPA and 2,4-D in Mauritius but other sources have indicated moderate susceptibility to these and other growth-regulating herbicides. Burt (1965) reported susceptibility of C. erecta to fenoprop and picloram.

References

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Contributors

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12/06/14 Original text by:

Chris Parker, consultant, UK

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