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Centella asiatica – Plant in ø 25 cm pot
Centella asiatica is a species of annual herbaceous plants in the family Apiaceae native to Asia and Oceania. It is used as a medicinal plant in Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. It was also known under the scientific name of Hydrocotyle asiatica L. and various vernacular names, Gotu kola, Antanan, Pegaga.
The plant consists of thin green to pink stems forming runners. The soft-textured green leaves are reniform and have a 20 cm petiole. The small (- 3 mm) hermaphroditic flowers are pink and green, arranged in umbels near the surface of the ground. Each flower is partially contained in a bract. It has five stamens and two styles.
The plant matures in three months and only the leaves are removed for the protection of the resource.
When eaten raw leaves in salad, the "pegaga" is supposed to have a rejuvenating effect. A leaf decoction made from Centella asiatica, Justicia gendarussa and Imperata cylindrica helps reduce hypertension.
In external application, its steroids would relieve leprosy, soothe itching, soften wrinkles, burns and heal more easily.
Centella asiatica is also said to have aphrodisiac and antioxidant effects.
Centella asiatica could improve alertness and relieve anger and the stability of atherosclerotic plaques associated with pycnogenol.
In the 17th century, Gotu kola was eaten regularly as a salad and as an infusion by a Chinese named Li Qingyun (or Li Ching-Yuen) reputed to have lived almost two hundred years. A 2010 study shows that Centella asiatica would also be a promising anxiolytic.
How to grow Centella asiatica?
Hardy down to -5°, Centella asiatica needs slightly acidic soil, rich in organic matter and well drained. This plant of tropical origin, particularly appreciates cool and humid soils as well as exposure to shade or partial shade.