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Centella asiatica - Gotu Kola

Family:Umbelliferae
Habit:Perennial
Height:0.2
Width:1
Synonyms:Hydrocotyle asiatica. L. H. cordifolia. H. repanda.
Range:E. Asia - India, China and Japan. Australia.
Centella asiatica (Gotu Kola) is a Perennial which grows to a height of 0.2m and a width of 1m . It has a hardness rating of 8and is quite resiliant to frost.
Gotu Kola will flower in January to February. The flowers from this plant are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and they are pollinated by Insects

Soil Information

Gotu Kola will grow in light (sandy),medium (loamy),hard (clay) soil. It is not necessary for the soil to be well drained.
The soil prefers the following PH / acid levels :
- pH of less than 6, Acidic soils
- pH between 6 and 8, Neutral soils
- pH greater than 8, Basic soils
Gotu Kola prefers soils

Ideal Planting Locations

Gotu Kola can grow in semi or areas with no shade.

Old stone walls and rocky sunny places in lowland hills and especially by the coast in central and southern Japan[58]. Shady, damp and wet places such as paddy fields, and in grass thickets[147, 238].

Planting places suited to this plant described below.

Cultivation Details

Prefers a moist to wet soil in sun or partial shade[238]. Plants also grow on walls in the wild and so should tolerate drier conditions[K]. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10c[200]. It grows and spreads very well outdoors during the summer in most parts of the country and is very easy to increase by division. It can therefore be grown as a summer crop with divisions being taken during the growing season and overwintered in a greenhouse in case the outdoor plants are killed by winter cold[K].

Edible Uses*

* See disclaimer
Edible Rating: 3/5
Leaves - raw or cooked. Used in salads and in curries[238]. Cooked as a vegetable[272]. An aromatic flavour, we have found them to be rather overpowering in salads when used in any but small quantities[K].

Medicinal Uses*

* See disclaimer
Medicinal Rating: 5/5
Gotu kola is an outstandingly important medicinal herb that is widely used in the Orient[238] and is becoming increasingly popular in the West[254]. Its Indian name is 'Brahmi' which means 'bringing knowledge of the Supreme Reality' and it has long been used there medicinally and as an aid to meditation[238]. It is a useful tonic and cleansing herb for skin problems and digestive disorders[254]. In India it is chiefly valued as a revitalizing herb that strengthens nervous function and memory[254]. The whole plant is alterative, cardio-depressant, hypotensive, weakly sedative and tonic[240]. It is a rejuvenating diuretic herb that clears toxins, reduces inflammations and fevers, improves healing and immunity, improves the memory and has a balancing effect on the nervous system[147, 152, 238, 240]. It has been suggested that regular use of the herb can rejuvenate the nervous system and it therefore deserves attention as a possible cure for a wide range of nervous disorders including multiple sclerosis[K]. Recent research has shown that gotu kola reduces scarring, improves circulatory problems in the lower limbs and speeds the healing process[238]. It is used internally in the treatment of wounds, chronic skin conditions (including leprosy), venereal diseases, malaria, varicose veins, ulcers, nervous disorders and senility[238, 240]. Caution should be observed since excess doses cause headaches and transient unconsciousness[238]. Externally, the herb is applied to wounds, haemorrhoids and rheumatic joints[238]. The plant can be harvested at any time of the year and is used fresh or dried[238]. Another report says that the dried herb quickly loses its medicinal properties and so is best used fresh[237].

Propagation

Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse[238]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year, after the last expected frosts[K]. Division is simple at any time in the growing season, though the spring is probably best[K]. We find that it is best to pot up the divisions until they are rooting away well, though in selected mild gardens it should be possible to plant the divisions out directly into their permanent positions[K].

Known Hazards

There is a warning that the plant can irritate the skin[238], though it is widely used to treat skin complaints[238].

Other Uses

Extracts of the plant are added to cosmetic masks and creams to increase collagen and firm the skin[238].

Cultivars

no recorded cultivars

References

Flora of Japan. (English translation)
Ohwi. G.
Author: Ohwi. G.
Rating:
Publisher : The standard work. Brilliant, but not for the casual reader.
Date of Publication : 1965

Flora of the Sydney Region
Carolin. R. & Tindale. M.
Author: Carolin. R. & Tindale. M.
Rating:
Publisher : Concise flora with little beyond an extensive key, species descriptions, very brief habitat description.
Date of Publication : 1993

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