Pilea peperomioides

Pilea peperomioides (/pˈlə pɛpəˌrmiˈɔɪdz/[1]), the Chinese money plant[2] or missionary plant,[3] is a species of flowering plant in the nettle family Urticaceae, native to Yunnan and Sichuan provinces in southern China.

Pilea peperomioides
Pilea peperomioides Chinese money plant.jpg
Pilea peperomioides and offspring
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Urticaceae
Genus: Pilea
P. peperomioides
Binomial name
Pilea peperomioides
Diels, 1912


George Forrest was the first westerner to collect Pilea peperomioides, in 1906 and again in 1910, in the Cang Mountain range in Yunnan Province.

In 1945, the species was found by Norwegian missionary Agnar Espegren in Yunnan Province when he was fleeing from Hunan Province. Espegren took cuttings with him back to Norway, by way of India, in 1946 and from there it was spread throughout Scandinavia.

Pilea peperomioides is an example of a plant which has been spread amongst amateur gardeners via cuttings, without being well-known to western botanists. They did not know its true classification until the 1980s. The first known published image appeared in the Kew magazine in 1984.[4]


Having a superficial resemblance to pennyworts and growing 30 cm (12 in) tall and wide, it is an erect, evergreen perennial, with round, dark green, peltate leaves up to 10 cm (4 in) in diameter on a long petiole.[5] The stem axis is greenish to dark brown, usually simple, often upright straight, slightly lignified at the base. In poor growing conditions, the plants lose their leaves in the lower part of the branch axis and thereby assume a very distinctive habit. The plants are completely hairless. Striking are their large, circular, shiny, leaves, which can have a diameter of over 15 centimeters (6 in). The petioles are wild growing 5 cm to 45 cm (2 to 17 in) long, in indoor plants up to 30 centimeters (12 in). The flowers are inconspicuous.[6]


This species occurs only in China: in the southwest of Sichuan province and in the west of Yunnan province. Here it grows on shady, damp rocks in forests at altitudes from 1500 to 3000m. It is very rare and possibly endangered in its native habitat. However, it is kept in China and worldwide as an ornamental plant.


With a minimum temperature of 10 °C (50 °F), in temperate regions P. peperomioides is cultivated as a houseplant. P. peperomioides is propagated from plantlets that sprout on the trunk of the parent plant (these are called offshoots) or from underground shoots (called rhizomes).[7] It forms fast-growing foothills, which are often passed on as a lucky plant ("lucky thaler") or friendship plant. Since constant temperatures and high humidity have a positive effect on plant growth, this plant species is suitable for planting terrariums.

It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[3][8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Interview of Dr Phillip Cribb [nl] by Jane Perrone on Episode 17: Seeking Pilea peperomioides - why everyone wants the Chinese money plant (01:40) of On the Ledge podcast. 15 September 2017. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  2. ^ Citizen science observations for Pilea peperomioides at iNaturalist  
  3. ^ a b "RHS Plant Selector - Pilea peperomioides". Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  4. ^ "A Chinese puzzle solved - Pilea peperomioides". Retrieved 30 June 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1405332965.
  6. ^ A. Radcliffe-Smith: Pilea peperomioides . Kew Magazine, vol. 1, 1984, pp. 14-19.
  7. ^ Stanwyck, Mary (2020). The Pilea Peperomioides Handbook: An Illustrated Guide to Caring for Your Chinese Money Plant. London: Pilea Publications. pp. 15–17.
  8. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 78. Retrieved 30 April 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)