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.’

Addendum:  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.

Updated 22 July 2021.

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