pennywort

Hydrocotyle acutiloba
growing in the understorey of an open woodland (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
growing in gaps in concrete (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
habit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
sparsely hairy leaves (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
close-up of lobed leaf and hairy leaf stalk attached to the base of the leaf blade (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
small flower clusters in the leaf forks (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
stems and clusters of immature and mature fruit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
seedling (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
Aquatic
Basal
Simple
Green
Green

A small long-lived herbaceous plant with creeping stems. Its slender stems are hairy and take root at the joints. Its small leaves (1.2-3 cm across) are borne on stalks 1-10 cm long and have three to seven toothed lobes. Its tiny flowers are densely arranged in small clusters that are borne on stalks about 1.5 cm long its small rounded fruit are about 1 mm across and split in two when mature.

Common names 
Also known as: pennywort,
Family 
Araliaceae
Deciduous 
No
Flowering time 
Summer-Autumn
Native/Exotic 
Native
Origin 
Native to large parts of eastern Australia (i.e. eastern and central Queensland, eastern New South Wales, the ACT and eastern Victoria). It is found throughout south-eastern Queensland, and is relatively common in the Moreton district.
Notifiable 
No
Council declaration 
SIL – Special Investigation List
Known distribution 

Widely distributed throughout QLD.

Habitat 

This species grows naturally in wetlands, swamps, riaprian vegetation and the margins of wetter forests. It is also a weed of gardens, footpaths, lawns and other turfed areas.

Habit 

A small long-lived (i.e. perennial) herbaceous plant with creeping (i.e. prostrate) stems.

Impact and control methods 
Stem and leaves 

The stems are fine, green and hairy (i.e. pubescent). They creep along the ground, taking root at the joints (i.e. nodes). The small leaves have three to seven toothed lobes and are usually 1.2-3 cm across. They are held upwards and borne on stalks (i.e. petioles) 1-10 cm long.

Flowers and fruits 

The tiny flowers are densely arranged in clusters that are borne on stalks (i.e. peduncles) about 1.5 cm long. Flowering occurs throuhout the year. The small rounded (i.e. spherical) fruit are about 1 mm across and split in two when mature.

Reproduction and dispersal 

This plant reproduces vegetatively via runners (i.e. stolons) and also via seed.Stem fragments (i.e. stolons) and seeds are dispersed by water movement and in mud attached to animals, boats and vehicles.

Similar species 

Pennywort (Hydrocotyle acutiloba) is very similar to several other native pennyworts (e.g. Hydrocotyle peduncularis, Hydrocotyle laxiflora, Hydrocotyle pedicellosa, Hydrocotyle tripartita and Hydrocotyle verticillata ). Most of which are occasionally also weedy in lawns and gardens. These species can be distinguished by the following differences: pennywort (Hydrocotyle acutiloba) has relatively small leaves (1.2-3 cm across) with five-lobed margins. These leaves are borne on hairy stalks that are attached to the bases of the leaf blades. Small pennywort (Hydrocotyle peduncularis) has very small leaves (0.5-1.2 cm across) with slightly lobed margins. These leaves are borne on hairless stalks that are attached to the bases of the leaf blades.stinking pennywort (Hydrocotyle laxiflora) has moderately-sized leaves (1-5 cm across) with seven-lobed margins. These leaves are borne on hairy stalks that are attached to the bases of the leaf blades. Large pennywort (Hydrocotyle pedicellosa) has relatively large leaves (3-12 cm across) with slightly lobed margins. These leaves are borne on finely stalks that are attached to the bases of the leaf blades. Three-part pennywort (Hydrocotyle tripartita) has relatively small leaves (0.4-2 cm across) divided into three lobed segments. These leaves are borne on sparsely hairy stalks that are attached to the bases of the leaf blades. Shield pennywort (Hydrocotyle verticillata) has moderately-sized leaves (2-6 cm across) with slightly lobed margins. These leaves are borne on hairless stalks that are attached to the undersides of the leaf blades (i.e. the leaves are peltate). Pennywort (Hydrocotyle acutiloba) is similar to another plant also known as pennywort (Centella asiatica). The leaves of Centella asiatica are bluntly toothed (i.e. crenate), but they are not lobed as in Hydrocotyle acutiloba . Kidney weed (Dicondra repens) is another relatively similar creeping plant, but it has kidney-shaped leaves with entire margins.