Hydrocotyle umbellata: Dollarweed

Family: Araliaceae
Common name: Dollarweed, Marsh pennywort, Water pennywort, Acaricoba, Manyflower marsh-pennywort, Many-flowered marsh-pennywort

Beautiful aquatic plants that can grow well in water and in soil, Dollarweeds are preferred as ornamental plants in gardens. These plants can grow to a height of 1 meter with long stalks arising from the base of the plant carrying umbrella-shaped, succulent, glossy, green leaves.

The leaves have an almost circular outline with roughly serrated edges, and radiating veins from the center towards the outer edges. These plants are called dollarweeds since the leaves are the size of a silver dollar.

Dollarweeds flower abundantly producing tiny white flowers with 4-5 petals. They also produce rounded, capsule-like fruits that looks like the cross-section of an apple. The flowers attract bees and insects, that help in pollination.

These beautiful plants form good ground cover with the long stolons or elongated stems that root at the nodes helping the plant spread over large areas. They can grown in shallow water bodies, marshes or ponds. These plants were introduced into cultivation is aquarium plants, but are now seen almost everywhere, even on roadsides and marshy areas.

They have escaped from cultivation, and is considered an invasive weed, which is very difficult to get rid of. A small portion of the stolon that falls on the ground during transportation can produce a new plant, which grows quickly to cover the area.

These fast-growing plants can choke seedlings in agricultural land, causing a lot of nuisance and damage. Hence chemical, mechanical and biological methods are being tried to get rid of these pesky little plants. Dollarweed leaves are used as herbs, and also in salads.

Though the leaves have some toxicity, it is used in Ayurvedic medicine as analgesic and anti-inflammatory. The nuisance caused by these plants far outweigh their benefits, and hence most articles on the Internet talk about how to kill dollarweeds and not about how to grown them.

It also goes to show that dollarweeds are ideal plants for amateur gardeners. You can plant them in a moist, shady spot in your garden and forget about them. Dollarweeds can also be grown in shallow ponds, adding another element to your gardenscape.

Propagation is through seeds or cuttings from stolons, long stems that grow underneath the soil.

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