Family • Umbelliferae - Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides Lam. - WATER PENNYWORT - Man-t'ien-hsing

Scientific names

Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides Lam.
Hydrocotyle rotundifolia Roxb.
Hydrocotyle nitidula A. Rich.
Hydrocotyle hirsuta Sw.
Hydrocotyle puncticulata Miq.
Hydrocotyle latisecta Zoll.
Hydrocotyle keelungensis Liu

Common names

Kanapa (Ig.)
Tomtomon (Bon.)
Water pennywort (Engl.)
Man-t’ien hsing (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Long deng wan.
JAPANESE: Chidome gusa.
NEPALESE: Saano ghod taapre.
THAI: Ya klet hoi.
VIETNAMESE: Rau ma nho.

Kanapa is a delicate, creeping, nearly smooth herb with the stems rooting at the nodes. Leaves are orbicular or subreniform, thin, about 1 centimeter in diameter with heart-shaped base and margins somewhat lobed, the lobes being short and having 2 or 3 teeth. Umbels are very small, with few flowers. Flowers are small, white, sessile, axillary, sepals lacking, petals and stamens 5. Fruits are few, sometimes only 2 or 3 on a peduncle and less than 1 millimeter long, ellipsoid, usually with red colored spots.


– Along small streams in shaded ravines, ascending to 1,600 meters, in Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, Abra, Bontoc, Benguet, Laguna, Bataan, Quezon, Pangasinan, and Rizal Provinces in Luzon, and occasional in Manila in damp shaded gardens at sea level.
– Occurs in India to Japan, Malaya, and the Mascarene Islands.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides – Lam. / Water Pennywort / Plants For A Future

(2) Effects of Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides extract on transplanted tumors and immune function in mice / Phytomedicine, Volume 14, Issue 2, Pages 166-171 / F. Yu, F. Yu, P. McGuire, R. Li, R. Wang

(3) Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of the four Hydrocotyle species from Taiwan / Shyh-Shyun Huang et al / Botanical Studies (2008) 49: 311-322.

(4) Hydrocotylosides I−VII, New Oleanane Saponins from Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides / Aki Matsushita et al / J. Nat. Prod., 2004, 67 (3), pp 384–388 • DOI: 10.1021/np030356z

(5) Some Antipyretic Ethno-medicinal Plants of Manipuri community of Barak Valley, Assam, India / Manabendra Dutta Choudhury et al / Ethnobotanical Leaflets 14: 21-28, 2010

(6) Medicinal plants used against dysentery, diarrhea and cholera by tribes of erstwhile Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh / A kar and S K Borthakur / Natural Product Radiance, Vol 7(2), 2008, 176-181

(7) Study on the Antiheptic Chemical Constituents of Hydrocotyle Sibthorpioides L. / Thesis / China Papers

(8) Sorting Hydrocotyle names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 – 2000 The University of Melbourne.

(9) Protective effect of genistein isolated from Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides on hepatic injury and fibrosis induced by chronic alcohol in rats. / Huang Q, Huang R, Zhang S, Lin J, Wei L, He M, Zhuo L, Lin X. / Toxicol Lett. 2013 Feb 27;217(2):102-10./ doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2012.12.014. Epub 2012 Dec 26

Parts utilized
· Entire plant.
· Gathered throughout the year.
· Rinse after collection, sun-dry before use or use in fresh state.

– Roots contain vellarin and vitamin C.
– Plant yielded 7 new oleanane-type triterpenoid saponins, hydrocotylosides I-VII and one known saponin, udosaponin B.
– Study yielded ten compounds: stigmasterol, daucosterol, hibalactone, genistein, daidzein,methyl-3, 4-dihydroxybenzoate, protocatechuic acid, caffeic acid, isorhamnetin, quercetin, hyperin.
– Study yielded 28 compounds, seven isolated for the first time: chlorogenic acid methyl ester, 5-hydroxymaltol, (-)-angelicoidenol 2-O-β-D-glucopyranoside, n-butyl-β-D- fructopyranoside, apigenin, kaempferol, 4,2′,4′-trihydroxychalcone, and oleanolic acid.

Sweet tasting, slightly minty.
Juice is emetic.
Considered depurative, febrifuge, expectorant, antitussive; antifebrile, diuretic.


– Plant juice used for fevers.
– Poultice used for wounds and boils.
– Decoction of plant used for abscesses, colds, coughs, hepatitis, influenza, pruritus, sore throat.
– Used for headaches and urinary problems.
– In Malaya, mixed with sugar and cassia bark and given to children for coughs.
– Juice considered emetic.
– Leaves pounded with alum for poulticing scrotal skin ailments.
– In Nepal, plant used as diuretic and febrifuge.
– In China, used for hepatoma. Also, an ingredient in Chinese herbal concoctions used for muscular dystrophy. Also, used in treatment of hepatitis.
– In the Arunachal Pradesh district of India, juice of the plant mixed with honey, used for typhoid fever. In the district of India, fresh plants are crushed and the juice extracted and three tablespoons are taken twice daily for five days.
• Leaves are edible.
• Whole plant can be used as a potherb with its parsley-like aroma.


Study Findings
• Antitumor / Immunomodulatory: Ethanolic extract of HS showed anti-tumor activity with significantly enhanced activity on murine hepatic carcinoma, sarcoma 180 cancer, and uterine cervical carcinoma clones. Activity was comparable to that of antitumor agent 5-fluorouracil. The extract also mediate immunomodulatory effects as shown by promotion of thymus and spleen indices and humoral immunity in mice.
• Antioxidant / Antriproliferative: H sibthorpioides was one of four Hydrocotyle species studied. The results demonstrated that the phytochemicals might have a significant effect on antioxidant and anticancer activities related to the amount of polyphenols and flavonoids. The four species present a potential source of natural antioxidants. Of the four hydrocotyle specie, HS and H batrachium had the lowest antiproliferative activity and H nepalensis, the highest activity.
• Triterpenoid Saponins: Study of methanolic extract yielded seven new oleanane-type triterpenoid saponins, hydrocotylosides I-VII and one known saponin, udosaponin B.
• Anti-Heptic / HBsAg Inhibition: Study yielded 10 compounds, viz., stigmasterol, daucosterol, hibalactone, genistein, daidzein,methyl-3, 4-dihydroxybenzoate, protocatechuic acid, caffeic acid,isorhamnetin, auercetin, hyperin. The herb showed no toxicity of Hep G2 2.2.15 cell, and its water extract exhibited inhibition to HBsAg at 1 mg/ml concentration with an inhibition ration of 27%.
• Genistein / Hepatoprotective / Alcohol Induced Injury and Fibrosis: Study evaluated the effect of genistein isolated from H. sibthorpioides on chronic alcohol-induced hepatic injury and fibrosis. Genistein exerted a preventative effect to ameliorate developing liver injury and even liver fibrosis induced by chronic alcohol administration in rats.
• Asiaticoside / Age-Related Cognitive Benefits: Study evaluated the effect of asiaticoside from Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides on the promotion of cognition in senescence-accelerated mice. Results showed treatment with asiaticoside from HS significantly improved learning and memory abilities in behavioral tests. Results suggest AHS may prevent spatial learning and memory decline by scavenging free radicals, up-regulating the activity of antioxidant enzymes, decreasing Aß, ameliorating dysfunction in synaptic plasticity and reversing abnormal changes in Ach and AchE activity.