Pilea peperomioides

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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

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.


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 that 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]


Pilea peperomioides is an erect, evergreen perennial plant, with shiny, dark green, circular leaves up to 10 cm (4 in) in diameter on long petioles.[5] The leaves are described as peltate, i.e. they are circular with the petiole attached near the centre. The plant is completely hairless. It grows to around 30 cm (12 in) tall and wide in the wild, sometimes more when grown indoors. The stem is greenish to dark brown, usually unbranched and upright, and lignified at the base when mature. In poor growing conditions, the plants lose their leaves in the lower part of the stem and thereby assume a distinctive habit. The flowers are inconspicuous.[6]

The plant has a superficial resemblance to Umbilicus rupestris but is not related.


This species occurs only in China: in the southwest of Sichuan province and the west of Yunnan province. 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.

Although the plant is endangered in its native habitat, it is a popular houseplant -- it is among the most popular houseplants today. It’s in high demand because it’s slim, easy to grow and tolerate of dry environments. But it’s not a new fad and has been further popularized by Instagram and TikTok trends.[8]

Caring for a Pilea isn’t difficult. The plant can take a few days of dry soil between watering. Too much water can cause the leaves to drop. A week of neglect won’t kill it, either. It will retract into its pot and wait until you notice it again.

It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[3][9]

See also[edit]


  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 Edit this at Wikidata
  3. ^ a b "RHS Plant Selector - Pilea peperomioides". Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  4. ^ "A Chinese puzzle solved - Pilea peperomioides". Retrieved 30 June 2013.
  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. ^ Airhart, Ellen (2019-03-21). "The Instagram-famous plant that used to be impossible to find". Vox. Retrieved 2021-07-15.
  9. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 78. Retrieved 30 April 2018.