Indian Pennywort – Muthill (Kudangal)

As a herb from the family Apiaceae, Indian Pennywort is a herb that grows close to the ground. While it is called Mandukaparni in Sanskrit, it is Kudangal, Kodakan or Muthill in Malayalam.

It is an important medicinal plant in Ayurveda as it helps to improve the brain function and slows down aging.

Indian Pennywort - Muthill Plant- Centella asiatica
Indian Pennywort – Centella asiatica – Also known as Muthill, Kodakan, Kudangal, Gotu Kola

Important Facts

Plant Type: Herbal Creeper
Family: Apiaceae
Scientific name: Centella Asiatica

Leaves: Brain-shaped

Common name: Gotu Kola
English: Indian Pennywort
Sanskrit: Mandukaparni, Saraswati, Brahmee
Hindi: Khulakhudi, Brahmamandooki
Bengali: Dhulakusi
Tamil: Vallarai
Malayalam: Kodakan, Kudangal, Muthill

Distribution: Native to India
Habitat: Well-moist soil, shaded or sunlight

Leaves of Indian Pennywort - Muthill or Kodakan - Centella asiatica
The leaves of Kodakan- Photos from Kottayam, Kerala

Description

Indian Pennywort is a creeper spreading on the ground by forming a network of stems. From each node of the delicate stem, petioles emerge upward while the root system grows downward.

The leaf has a striking appearance which looks like a brain or kidney. A leaf is 2.5 cm in diameter. The petiole and leaf together can be 10 cm long which stand erect from the stem.

The flowers are dark red and occur in groups of three to six. An individual flower is very small in size and has five petals. The fruits are also small.

Indian Pennywort - Muthill - Centella asiatica
Spreading on the ground

Medicinal Uses & Benefits

  • Kudangal or Mandukaparni contains a compound by the name Brahmoside which improves sleep.
  • Believed to be effective against epilepsy and mental disorders.
  • Helps to improve brain functioning and enhances memory.
  • Found to be anti-aging, it improves the overall tone of the body and helps to slow down the process of aging.
  • Helps to cure certain skin diseases.

Ambiguity in names

Although Centella asiatica is usually considered as Kudangal in medicines, in some places other species take its place. For example, in Sri Lanka, Java Pennywort (Hydrocotyle javanica) is taken as Kudangal/Mandukaparni.

In certain parts of North India, Bacopa monnieri is taken instead of C.asiatica. B.moniieri is the real Brahmi. However, C.asiatica is also sometimes referred as Brahmi. So that may be the reason behind the confusion.

Distribution & Habitat

It is a native herb in India growing well in moist or swamp-like soil. So it is common along the edges of streams and drainages. 

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