WHAT IS IT?
A rather trendy leafy houseplant that, until fairly recently, caused a bit of a brew-ha-ha in the horticultural world because none of the experts knew what it was called. For years it had regularly appeared at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew’s help desk to be identified by mystified members of the public. It wasn’t until the late 1970s that it got a name, when Kew botanist Wessel Marais suggested that it was a Chinese species of Pilea. It now has several common names, including the Chinese money plant, the missionary plant and the pancake plant.
WHY WOULD YOU?
It has a rather appealing story attached to it: the plant was introduced to Europe in 1946 by a Norwegian missionary who had been travelling in the Chinese province of Yunming. Making the most of the plant’s easy-growing nature, he gave cuttings to friends and family in Norway, who in turn passed it on to friends in Sweden, then the UK and so on. It’s easy to grow, needing indirect light, good drainage and an occasional drink when the soil is dry.
WHY WOULDN’T YOU?
It can be hard to find a plant because more often than not, it’s ‘passed on’ rather than sold via nurseries. Try eBay.