The plant is indigenous to the warmer regions of both hemispheres, including Africa, Australia, Cambodia, Central America, China, Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Madagascar, the Pacific Islands, South America, Thailand, southern United States of America, and Viet Nam. It is especially abundant in the swampy areas of India, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka up to an altitude of approximately 700m.


Botanical name  
Centella Asiatica
Vernacular names
Hindi – Brahmi booti
Vietnamese – Rau má
Philippines – Yahong yahong
Korean – 병풀 (byeongpul)
Chinese- 崩大碗 (Bēng dà wǎn)
French – Hydrocotyle asiatique
English – Indian pennywort, Asiatic pennywort
Indonesian – Pegagan, Daun Kaki Kuda
Malay – Pegaga


The stems are slender, creeping stolons, green to reddish-green in color, connecting plants to each other. It has long-stalked, green, reniform leaves with rounded apices which have smooth texture with palmately netted veins. The leaves are borne on pericardial petioles, around 2 cm. The rootstock consists of rhizomes, growing vertically down. They are creamish in color and covered with root hairs.
The flowers are pinkish to red in color, born in small, rounded bunches (umbels) near the surface of the soil. Each flower is partly enclosed in two green bracts. The hermaphrodite flowers are minute in size (less than 3 mm), with 5-6 corolla lobes per flower. Each flower bears five stamens and two styles.

The fruits are densely reticulate, distinguishing it from species of Hydrocotyle that have smooth, ribbed or warty fruit. The crop matures in three months, and the whole plant, including the roots, is harvested manually.

Systematic Classification Table

Systematic classification ( Taxonomy )


















Araliales ( Umbelliflorae )


Apiaceae or Umbelliferae






Centella asiatica

Active compounds found in Centella Asiatica

Centella asiatica is a very rich plant that contains a wide range of compounds. The following substances are listed in the literature as actives of the plant:

1. The plant contains 0,1% of essential oil with mainly:

  • Monoterpenes as α and β-pinene, myrcene, γ-terpinene, borneol, bornylacetate
  • Sesquiterpenes as α-copanene, β-elemene, β-caryophyllene, trans-β-farnesene, germacrene, bicycloelemene

2. The triterpene saponins (1.1-8.0%) as asiaticoside, brahminoside, centelloside, madecassoside & genins: asiatic, brahmic, centellinic, betulinic, madecassic, madasiatic acids;

Note: The content in saponins is variable according to the region and the year. But generally speaking, the richest Centella in saponins is found in Madagascar and can reach 8%. In China, the content is between 1.5 to 3%. In India, the content is usually lower, not more than 1%.

Moreover, some saponins are characteristics to some place like terminoloside specifically found in Madagascar.

3. Flavonoids: isoquercitrin, astragalin
4. Phytosterols: β-sitosterol, stigmasterol, campesterol
5. Bitter principle: vallerin
6. Amino acids: lysine, alanine, phenylalanine, serine, aspartic and glutamic acids
7. Fatty acids: palmitic, oleic, linoleic acids
8. Sugars: rhamnose, arabinose, fructose, sucrose, raffinose
9. Miscellaneous: resin, pectin, alkaloids, centellose (an oligosaccharide), polyphenols, tannins, carotenoids, mineral salts


Nutritional analysis of the leaves (100g)

Water 89.3 g Fe 3.1 mg
Protein 1.6 g K 414 mg
Fat 0.6 g Β-carotene 6580 μg
Carbohydrate 6.9 g Thiamine 0.15 mg
Fibre 2.0 g Riboflavin 0.14 mg
Ash 1.6 g Niacin 1.2 mg
Ca 170 mg Ascorbic acid 4 mg
P 30 mg

[1] Iwu MM. Handbook of African medicinal plants . Boca Raton, FL, CRC Press, 1993.

[2] Tyler VE, Brady LR, Robbers JE, eds. Pharmacognosy, 9th ed. Philadelphia, Lea & Febiger, 1988.

[3] Kartnig T. Clinical applications of Centella asiatica (L.) Urb. In: Craker LE, Simon JE, eds., Herbs, spices, and medicinal plants: recent advances in botany, horticulture, and pharmacology, Vol. 3. Phoenix, AZ, Oryx Press, 1988:145–173.

[4] Farnsworth NR, Bunyapraphatsara N, eds. Thai medicinal plants. Bangkok, Prachachon, 1992.