Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides Lamk

Protologue: Encycl. méth. bot. 3: 153 (1789).
Family: Umbelliferae
Chromosome number: 2n= unknown


  • Hydrocotyle rotundifolia DC. (1830),
  • H. benguetensis Elmer (1909),
  • H. delicata Elmer (1909).

Vernacular names

  • Lawn pennywort (En)
  • Indonesia: tikim (Jakarta), antanan leutik (West Java), andem (Java)
  • Malaysia: ulam gunung, pegaga embun
  • Philippines: tomtomon (Bontoc), enit (Kalinga), kanapa (Igorot)
  • Thailand: ya-klethoi (central)
  • Vietnam: rau má mơ.

Origin and geographic distribution

H. sibthorpioides is probably of Asiatic origin, but has become a weed with pantropical and subtropical distribution. It is very common all over South-East Asia.


H. sibthorpioides is a green used raw or steamed with rice. The smell and taste are similar to parsley. In Indonesia it is a common ingredient of Sundanese "rujak" (cut-up mixture of young fruits with a capsicum pepper sauce) and "asinan" (fruits and vegetables in brine).

H. sibthorpioides has medicinal applications similar to Centella asiatica (L.) Urban (syn. Hydrocotyle asiatica L.), in particular against skin diseases and as cough remedy.

Due to its limited dimensions, it is an insignificant weed in agriculture, but can still be a nuisance in ornamental lawns. It is sometimes helpful in protecting topsoil against erosion.

Production and international trade

H. sibthorpioides is marketed locally in small quantities and is never individually accounted for in production statistics.


No information is available on the nutritive value. In view of its medicinal uses, considerable research on its chemical constituents is being done in Japan. Like most Umbelliferae, H. sibthorpioides contains essential oil, the major terpenoid component being trans-beta-farnesene. A lignan, L-sesamin, and a caffeoylgalactoside have also been isolated from the plant.


  • Perennial, prostrate to suberect, polymorphous herb, up to 50 cm long, with slender, stoloniferous stems, rooting at the nodes.
  • Leaves alternate; stipules ovate to obovate, up to 1 mm × 1.5 mm; petiole up to 6 cm long, not sheathing at base; leaf-blade roundish to 5-angular in outline, 0.3-2.5 cm across, deeply cordate, 3-5-lobed to 3-5-partite, glabrous or hairy; segments crenate to serrate.
  • Inflorescence an umbel, 5-15-flowered, solitary, opposite the leaves; peduncle up to 3 cm long; involucral bracts 4-10, very small, around and between the flowers; flowers bisexual, subsessile; calyx teeth 5, minute or obsolete; petals 5, ovate, 0.7 mm × 0.5 mm, greenish-white; disk flat, margin elevated; stamens 5, alternate with the petals; ovary inferior; styles 2.
  • Fruit a laterally compressed schizocarp, with 2 one-seeded mericarps; mericarp 1-1.3 mm × 0.8 mm, yellow to brown, glabrous or with short stiff hairs, sometimes red-punctulate.

H. sibthorpioides is very variable in the shape of the leaves, depth of incisions, and hairiness of all parts. Many forms have been described as separate species, but all kinds of intermediate forms occur. It cannot always be easily distinguished from the related species H. javanica Thunb. The latter has larger leaves (3-8 cm across) and 15-50-flowered inflorescences. It is used - in combination with other ingredients - as a fish poison.


Lawn pennywort is commonly found in sunny or slightly shaded, moist localities, e.g. along stream banks, between stones in pathways, alongside walls, but also in meadows and in plantations of tree crops. It has a wide altitudinal adaptation, occurring from sea-level up to 4000 m. Natural dispersal is by water and animals.


H. sibthorpioides can be easily propagated by means of rooted stem parts as well as by seeds. It is rarely planted specifically as a vegetable crop; more often shoots are picked from naturally occurring patches, for instance in fields of food crops such as cassava.

Genetic resources and breeding

Neither germplasm collections nor breeding programmes exist.


H. sibthorpioides is a green which is well-appreciated by Indonesians, Malaysians and Chinese, but is mostly used in small quantities as a relish or condiment in various dishes. It might be interesting commercially if methods are developed to offer it in small quantities to the consumer, e.g. living plants in small pots as is done for parsley, leaf celery or chives in the western world.

In the future, H. sibthorpioides might assume more importance as a medicinal plant because of its promising chemical constituents.


  • Asakawa, Y, Matsuda, R. & Takemoto, T., 1982. Mono- and sesquiterpenoids from Hydrocotyle and Centella species. Phytochemistry 21(10): 2590-2592.
  • Buwalda, P., 1949. Umbelliferae. In: van Steenis, C.G.G.J. et al. (Editors), 1950- . Flora Malesiana. Series 1. Vol. 4. Noordhoff-Kolff, Djakarta, Indonesia. pp. 113-141.
  • Soeparma Satiadiredja, 1950. De teelt en het gebruik van Indonesische groenten en toekruiden [The cultivation and use of Indonesian vegetables and condiments]. Wolters, Groningen, the Netherlands. pp. 50-51.
  • Soerjani, M., Kostermans, A.J.G.H. & Tjitrosoepomo, G., 1987. Weeds of rice in Indonesia. Balai Pustaka, Jakarta, Indonesia. pp. 50-51.


  • H. Sangat-Roemantyo