Pennywort, a.k.a Dollar weed (Hydrocotyle bonariensis) is native to Louisiana and grows all around the perimeter of the Gulf of Mexico and a few other places on the planet. It favors some of the state’s moister conditions – around marshes and wetlands, on dunes by the sea, in ditches and even in some people’s yards. It probably got its name from being flat and round like a U.S. silver dollar and, as time goes on, their comparative value is getting closer and closer.
One of the plant’s survival techniques is the ability to accept anaerobic, or non-oxygenated conditions frequently presented when the ground in which the plant is living turns to semi-permanent muck. Wait a minute, you say, plants don’t use oxygen, they use carbon dioxide and spew out the world’s supply of oxygen for us animals to enjoy (who in turn spew out CO2 for the plants). Well, oxygen actually does figure into the complex biochemistry of the photosynthesis the plant uses to generate its own food from sunlight, but this plant has the ability to take it or leave it and finds other ways to get the trick done.
They are a simple, elegant little plant – one single, little round leaf. A rich, green carpet of them, looking up, glossily reflecting in the sun, has a pleasing texture and portrays nature’s lush beauty. Once a year they send up a stalk headed by a cluster of tiny white flowers but spend most the rest of the year just being flat, simple, green and round. There are hundreds of variations world-wide, in different shades of green, sizes and leaf shapes but they all follow the same basic design - a single leaf growing up from a rhizome in the ground and can have a surprisingly long stalk in order to give the leaf a good view of the sun.
There are some people who absolutely hate the plant with a purple passion and show it no respect. They become so fixated they pay good money to buy chemical poisons engineered to target these species and broadcast it on their lawns to try to wipe the plant out of their lives. While the age of this species on the planet is undetermined, it would be safe to say it was around long before and will be here long after Mr. Homeowner’s lawn goes through probate.