The Pilea Peperomioides

better known under Chinese Money Plant


The plant that every green thumb is looking for in New Zealand, but that no one can really find…


Here’s why:

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) of NZ created a list of all plants present in New Zealand before 1998. This lists all the plants that EPA knew about in New Zealand before 1998. If the plant is not on the list, it’s considered as an unwanted ‘new organism’. Sadly, the Pilea Peperomioides is not on the list and the MPI (Ministry for Primary Industries) is keeping an eye on them and keeps tracking them down to destroy them. The Pilea Peperomioides is also not listed on the MPI website and can’t not be imported either.


The small number of Pilea Peperomioides,also known under UFO plant or even pancake plant, that you can find in New Zealand are the ones that are privately owned.


You could find the plant a few years ago in a few nurseries in New Zealand till the day that MPI visited them and took all the Pilea Peperomioides away. Even a few persons on Trade Me listed the Chinese Money Plant but their auction was withdrawn quickly. The MPI is keeping a constant look online for all sort of sale (Trade Me, Facebook, etc) to destroy them.




The only way to make the plant legal in New Zealand is to prove that they were present before 1998. How to prove it? With any kind of documentary proof or even an old magazine.


I hope that answers your question of why the Chinese Money Plant is so rare.


A bit more about this popular indoor plant, originally from the southwestern Yunnan, province of China. It was brought into Europe in the 1940s by a Norwegian missionary after his visit from China. He started giving the leaves to his family and friends for gifts as it’s so easy to propagate. From his gift/cuttings, the Chinese Money Plant made his way across the world. The pilea is a strong plant that survived without being sold commercially.


How easy it is to propagate your Chinese Money Plant (if you are living outside of New Zealand!), the new growth come out of the soil. When they make their appearance, cut the sprout with a sharp knife. You can either keep them in water or even plant them straight into the soil. And there it is, a new plant for you or to offer it as a gift.


If you need more information don’t hesitate to read the Commercial Horticulture Magazine, edition August/September 2018.