Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Chinese money plant

Posted on by royvickery |

For many years the houseplant Crassula ovata has been known as ‘money tree’, being believed to ensure prosperity.  It appears that similar beliefs might be attached to another houseplant, Pilea peperomioides, also known as missionary plant.

In March 2018 Pilea plants, labelled ‘Chinese money plant’ were on sale in Paris’s Marché aux Fleurs, although the label, which features coins and a piggy bank, makes no claim that the plants attract money.

Pilea peperomioides is native to Yunnan, where it is believed to be extinct, due to habitat loss; according to the label on the Paris plants:

‘In 1946 cuttings were taken by missionary Agnar Espegren to Norway.  Therefore it is also called missionary plant.  The Pilea has recently become popular amongst amateur gardeners thanks to Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, where people share information about their plants.’


1. When discussing her five Pilea peperomioides plants with a young woman in Balham, London Borough of Wandsworth, in July 2021, she referred to them as her Chinese money-plants.

2.  Another name appears to be pancake plant, under which name Pilea peperomioides was offered for sale at £20 each at Hop Market Flowers, Foregate Street, Worcester, in September 2021.

3.  S. Theresa Dietz, in her The Complete Language of Flowers, 2022, lists Chinese money plant, lefse plant, mirror grass, missionary plant, pancake plant, pilea, and UFO plant as names for Pilea peperomioides.  According to her its ‘symbolic meanings’ are ‘Be lucky for me; Good luck’, and its ‘possible powers’  are ‘Friendship; Luck; Money; Money luck’.

Updated 4 December 2022.

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