by Robert Paul Hudson
Hydrocotyle leucocephala, (Brazilian pennywort), is found throughout South America and North America. It typically grows in shallow water along the shore with the leaves above water. Underwater the leaves are smaller and the stems grow long rooted in the substrate and growing up to the water surface and then floating.
In the aquarium you can train it to grow horizontal to some extent but unless you constantly prune it, the stems will grow upward. The somewhat heart shaped leaves grow alternately on the stem. Each leaf or “node” has roots growing from it and the stem may be cut at each node . The plant is fairly easy to grow in the aquarium needing moderate light or better. Bright light and C02 will make the plant grow faster.
Floating, the leaves grow larger and closer together and will even grow above water. The plant grows much faster this way.
There are other Hydrocotyle species and all have a basic similar appearance. H. vulgaris is often sought after because the stems usually grow completely horizontal with only the leaf stems growing vertical; creating a carpet of umbrella looking leaves.