Gotu kola (centella asiatica) is a creeping plant found in the swamps of India and other tropical countries. In Ayurveda, it is known as Brahmi – that which aids knowledge of Supreme Reality — and is regarded as one of the most spiritual of all herbs. (Bacopa monnieri, another low-growing groundcover, also is known as Brahmi but they are totally different plants.)
Unlike many Ayurvedic herbs, gotu kola prefers cooler seasons of the year to the heat of the summer. We grow it in a shady area during the summer and then move it to a sunnier spot in the winter. It handles temperatures as low as 25 but is very happy spending summers outside in damp, shady locations and winters indoors.
We recommend you transplant this plant when it arrives to a larger pot, at least one gallon. It is extraordinarily versatile, growing in full sun in a hanging basket (with sufficient water) or in mostly shade. Gotu Kola also is easy to propagate by placing leaflets (still attached to the plant) on damp soil or in water. Although it is related to carrot, parsley, dill and fennel, it does not have their feathery leaves or umbrellas of tiny flowers. It is sometimes confused with the kola nut, but is not related and does not contain any caffeine.
We have not had any problems with insects or fungal diseases on gotu kola in our greenhouses.
Like neem, gotu kola traditionally has been widely used for a number of conditions. More recent studies, conducted primarily on animals and available online at www.pubmed.com indicate that it may:
- Offer support for healthy memories. A 1992 study showed an impressive improvement in rats – three to 60 times greater than those without gotu kola. Another study indicates that it may help improve circulation to the brain and protect it against oxidative damage.
- Support good circulation and help improve the appearance of varicose veins. Some preliminary research indicates that it boosts the production of collagen, which may help improve the appearance of fine lines and minimize cellulite.
- Used externally, it is believed to prevent or minimize scaring in burns and other wounds.
It grows quickly and has a pleasant taste, so we’ll usually eat a few leaves whenever we walk past it.