I think the true gardener is a lover of his flowers, not a critic of them.
I think the true gardener is the reverent servant of Nature, not her truculent, wife-beating master.
I think the true gardener, the older he grows, should more and more develop a humble, grateful and uncertain spirit.
Reginald Farrer, In a Yorkshire Garden, 1909

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pennywort (pegaga)

Indian pennywort or gotu kola
Today I decided to pen down some thoughts on my pennywort, known scientifically as centella asiatica and in Malay as pegaga. I have two types. The thicker leave type, known as Brazilian/marsh pennywort and the thinner/softer leave type, known as Indian pennywort or gotu kola. The latter is popular with the Malay community as a salad dish called ulam.

Brazilian/marsh pennywort
Visit a Malay restaurant and chances are you will find some fresh gotu kola whereby the leaves and the stems can be eaten raw. Its quite crunchy but not much of taste, so its often eaten with chilly or sambal. Grow them on the ground and you will see them spread like wild fire. I have also seen them sold in aquarium centers as a decorative underwater plant.

Both types require some shade as they dislike strong sunlight. They can be found near water source or under shrubs and trees. Its realitively easy to grow but I have to say its not low maintenance though. Some may disagree but I have been battling with mealy bugs ever since I acquired these plants and grew them in pots (see pics). I would normally remove the pest manually by hand and that help to control the spread but it comes back again, noticeable by the yellowish and dried up leaves. Fed up, I decided to cut and remove all the leaves and stems, sprayed with neem oil and now leaving it to grow new clean shoots (see pic).

Now you see it, now you don't!
I received the Indian pennywort from my family and bought the marsh pennywort at a local nursery. The former grew very well, even extended beyond the pot and the leaves grew bigger than the latter. Both have weak stems but I am not sure if the latter is edible. Do you know?

Two things that I have learned about this herb are:
1. It flowers. I have had the plant for a year and have never seen any flowers but a check on the net seems to show that it does flower.
2. It has beneficial properties. This site, for example, says that pennywort/pegaga help improve digestion and are anti-bacterial/anti-viral, as well as contain minerals and vitamins.

Its definitely a plant worth having around.

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