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Family Apiaceae / Umbelliferae
Hydrocotyle vulgaris Linn.

Xiang gu cao

Scientific names  Common names 
Hydrocotyle peltata Salisb.                Unresolved Mangkok (Tag.)
Hydrocotyle pleiantha Ces.                Unresolved Yahong-yahong (Bis.)
Hydrocotyle schkuhriana Rchb.           Unresolved Common pennyworth (Engl.) 
Hydrocotyle vulgaris Linn. Marsh pennywort (Engl.) 
  Rot grass (Engl.) 
  Pennywort (Engl. 
  Sheep rot (Engl.) 
  Waternavel (Engl.) 
  White rot (Engl.)
Pennyworth is a shared common name between (1) Takip-kohol, centella asiatic, pennywort, asiatic pennywort, and (2) Pennywort, Hydrocotyle vulgaris, mangkok (Tag.), yahong-yahong (Bis.).
Hydrocotyle vulgaris L. is an accepted name. The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Xiang gu cao.
FINNISH: Viitasammakonputki.
GERMAN: Gewöhnlicher Wassernabel.
IRISH: Lus na pingine.
SPANISH: Sombrerillo de agua.
SWEDISH: Spikblad
VIETNAMESE: Rau ma la sen.
OTHERS: Hidrocotia.

General info :
Genus hydrocotyle is an extensive family of almost 100 species of small, inconspicuous marsh herbs. The name "sheep rot" came from a false belief that it causes the "liver rot" when eaten by sheep; the real culprit proving to be liver fluke which lives in the plant. It has more than a century of recorded folkloric medicinal use.

Pennyworth is a creeping or floating perennial herb. Stems are slender, creeping, rooting at the nodes. Leaf stalk is attached to the leaf blade in the center of the under-surface. Leaves have long and slender petioles, glossy, dark green, crenate, peltate to orbicular, 6 to 9 veined, up to 4 cm across. Flowers are white, tinged with pink to purplish green, 1 millimeter, subsessile, 3 to 6 in a simple head-like umbel, 3 millimeters across, sometimes with 1 to 3 whorls of flowers below..

- Recently introduced to the Philippines.
- Grows well in marshy and acidic soil.
- Provides good ground cover.
- Propagated by cuttings and seeds.

• Study isolated an amorphous saponin designated as hydrocotyle-saponin B. (6)
• GC-MS analysis of stem, flowers and leaves (S, F, L) for essential oil yielded 15 components viz., hexenal, (2E)-hexenal, 3-hexen-1-ol, santalene, ß-farnesene, ß cubebene, y-muurolene, ß-bisabolene, y-sesquiphellandrene, nerolidol, caryophyllene oxide, ledol, Z-α-bisabolene epoxide, glubulol, epi-globulool, 5,5-dimethyl-4-(3-methyl-1,3,butadienyl)-1-oxapirol[2.5]octane. (see study below) (10)
• Study for secondary metabolites yielded flavonoids, reducing sugar, saponins, steroids, tannins, and terpenoids. No alkaloids, anthraquinones, and cyanogenic glycosides were detected. (11)
• Vitamin analysis yielded ß-carotene 10.4 mg/kg, riboflavin 4.08 mg/kg, vitamin C 70.2 mg/kg, and vitamin E 26.9 mg/kg, with non irritating pH levels of 5.7 and 7.14 for 50% and 75% extract concentrations. (see study below) (12)

- Considered vulnerary.
- Studies have shown cytotoxic and phytoremediative properties.

Parts utilized
Leaves and roots.

- Leaves are cooked; eaten in limited amounts. Has a strong carrot taste,
- In Samar, used for diarrhea.
- Subanens of Zamboanga del Sur use decoction of whole plants for cough and kidney stones. (9)
- The Ilongot-Egongot community of Maria Aurora, Aurora, Philippines, use the leaves for treatment of abdominal pain, cough, and kidney disease. (13)
- Elsewhere has a long recorded history of folkloric medicinal use.
- In 1850s, used in India for treatment of leprosy.
- Used for eczema and other dermatologic maladies such as scrofula, ulcers.
- Also used for rheumatism, headaches, dizziness, bloody stools.
- Leaves used to dress burns or applied to skin diseases.
- In Malaya, traditionally used for treating wounds and as a diuretic.
- In Danish folk medicine, used for whooping cough.
- Preferred infusion use, 1 ounce of root in 1 pint of fluid, used as 1/2 - 1 fluid ounce 3 - 4 times daily.

Cytotoxicity / Stem and Roots: Study showed cytotoxic activity of compounds (C1 and L1) isolated from the stem and root of H vulgaris. L1 was deduced to be panaxynol. C1 and L1 were cytotoxic toward human erythromyeloblasted leukemia cells, K-562 with IC50 of 13.9 µM and 34.2 µM, respectively, using MTT cell viability assay. (2)
Waste Water Purifying Effect: Study was done to evaluate the removal effects of H. vulgaris on CODCr, nitrogen and phosphorus in municipal domestic wastewater. Results indicated H. vulgaris was adaptable to grow in municipal domestic waste water with good purifying effect and is recommended as a specific aquatic vegetation in phytoremediation of municipal waste water. (3)
Phytoremediation Potential for Textile Dye: Study evaluated the potential of H. vulgaris as an aquatic plant for phytoremediation of C.I. Basic Red 46. Overall, the increase in activity of antioxidant enzymes was much higher in the roots than in the leaves. No significant increase in malondialdehyde (MDA) content was detected in both roots and leaves suggesting high efficiency of the antioxidant system in the elimination of reactive oxygen species. (7)
• Essential Oil / Antimicrobial Activity / Cytotoxicity: Study of leaves, stems, and flowers for essential oil yielded 16 components. The essential oil was evaluated for antimicrobial activity on E. coli, P. aeruginosa, S. aureus, F- oxysporum and for cytotoxicity on RD, Hep-G2, LU cancer cells. The essential oil of H. vulgaris had weaker bioactivity than H. bonariensis. (see constituents above) (10)
• Free Radical Scavenging / Antioxidants / Biocosmetic Antidote for Aging: Study the free radical scavenging activity, antioxidants, and physiological properties of H. vulgaris which could serve as basis for development of a biocosmetic antidote for pathological aging. Results showed H. vulgaris has abundant flavonoids and alkaloids with trace amounts of tannin. It has good scavenging activity for free radicals with IC50 of 29.75 and antioxidant activity of 158.13 (total phenolics as gallic acid in % w/w).  (12)


Updated Jan 2019 / Apr 2017 / Mar 2016

Photos / Content / Content ©Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Line Drawing / Hydrocotyle vulgaris / Hippolyte Coste - Flore descriptive et illustrée de la France, de la Corse et des contrées limitrophes, 1901-1906 / Public Domain / alterVISTA

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Hydrocotyle.—Water Pennywort
BIOASSAY GUIDED ISOLATION OF CYTOTOXIC COMPOUNDS FROM HYDROCOTYLE VULGARIS / Tee Shin Leong et al / Malaysian Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2009;17(1)
Purifying effect of Hydrocotyle vulgaris L. on municipal domestic wastewater / Zhou Yi-pin, Liu Wen et al / Journal of Zhongkai University of Agriculture and Engineering, 2011-02 / DOI: CNKI:SUN:ZNJX.0.2011-02-005
Hydrocotyle vulgaris / Synonyms / The Plant List
Sorting Hydrocotyle names / /Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1995 - 2020 / A Work in Progress. School of Agriculture and Food Systems. Faculty of Land & Food Resources. The Univers ity of Melbourne. Australia.
The Glycosidic Constituents of Hydrocotyle Vulgaris L / Chr. J. K. Mink / Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Volume 11, Issue 1, pages 244–247, September 1959 / DOI: 10.1111/j.2042-7158.1959.tb12550.x
Potential of Hydrocotyle vulgaris for phytoremediation of a textile dye: Inducing antioxidant response in roots and leaves / F. Vafaei, Ali Movafeghi, Alireza Khataee, Seyed Yahya Salehi Lisar / Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 6 May 2003; 93: pp 128-134 / DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2013.03.035
Nutrient enrichment alters impacts of Hydrocotyle vulgaris invasion on native plant communities
/ Lin Liu, Han Quan, Bi-Cheng Dong, Xiang-Qi Bu, Lin Li, Fu-De Liu, Guang-Chun Lei, and Hong-Li Lia / Sci Rep. 2016; 6: 39468 / doi: 10.1038/srep39468
Medicinal Plants of the Subanens in Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines / Lady Jane G. Morilla, Nanette Hope N. Sumaya, Henry I. Rivero and Ma. Reina Suzette B. Madamba / International Conference on Food, Biological and Medical Sciences (FBMS-2014) Jan. 28-29, 2014 Bangkok (Thailand)
CONTRIBUTION TO THE STUDY ON CHEMICAL CONSTITUENTS OF HYDROCOTYLE VULGARIS (L.), APIACEAE / Ton Nu Lien Huong, Nguyen Kim Phi Phung, Nguyen Ngoc Suong / Science & Technology Development, 2009; Vol 12, No 10

Phytochemical screening of marsh pennywort, hydrocotyle vulgaris linne 1753 leaf crude extract (order apiales; family umbelliferae) / Elvira P Abangan / Thesis/Dissertations: Feb 2012 / MS Biology, University of San Carlos / HERDIN
Free Radical Scavenging Activity and Antioxidants of Hydrocotyle vulgaris L. (Pennywort): Baseline Study in Developing Biocosmetic- Antidote for Pathological Aging / Romnick Ureta, Siegfred Mejico, and Yvonne Maranan / International Journal of Pharmacology, Phytochemistry and Ethnomedicine, 2017; Vol 10: pp 1-12 / doi:10.18052/www.scipress.com/IJPPE.10.1
Ethnomedicinal Plants Utilized by the Ilongot-Eǵongot Community of Bayanihan, Maria Aurora, Aurora, Philippines / Balberona, A. N., Noveno, J. J., Angeles, M. G. B., Santos R. I., Cachin, E. J. D. J. and Cruz, K. G. J. / International Journal of Agricultural Technology, 2018; 14(2): pp 145-159

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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