How to grow Crab Claw herb (Peperomia Pellucida) and its health benefits


The Crab Claw herb contains high nutrition and is easy to plant in your garden. It’s also known as Sirih Cina (Sireh Cina) or Pokok Ketumpang Air in Malay or its scientific name, Peperomia Pellucida.

how to grow crab claw herb (Peperomia pellucida )

© Aditya Riski Aziz/ 123RF

This article was translated from Cara tanam Sirih Cina (Peperomia Pellucida) dan khasiatnya untuk kesihatan by Dayana Sobri.

Most people think herbal plants are difficult to grow and require meticulous care. However, the Crab Claw herb (Peperomia Pellucida) is surprisingly easy to plant and take care of. Besides names like Sirih Cina and Ketumpang Air, this medicinal plant is also known by other common names; pepper elder, shining bush plant, and man to man. 

The plant grows and reproduces easily, whether in a pot or outside of it. This gives the false impression that the Crab Claw herb is just another wild plant with no nutritional benefits. In actuality, the price of Crab Claw herb could go up to RM10 per 100gram for the dried leaves and are often sold at Traditional Chinese Medicine Shops.

How many Peperomia types are there 

There are over 1,500 types of Peperomia species in the world. Many of them are popular houseplants, like Peperomia Pellucida.

Types of betel plants (sirih)

The betels are no strangers to most Malaysians, as they are seen as a staple in most cultures due to their health benefits. Since the Crab Claw herb is also known as Sirih Cina, let’s take a look at the different types of sirih in the country.

  •   Malay Betel

malay betel leaves or sirih melayu

© kaiooooooooooooo/ gettyimages

The Malay betel creeps along the ground or taking the support of a tree trunk. It requires a tropical climate and sufficient water source to grow and reproduce in a fertile way. It can also be grown on loose soil that is not too moist. The Malay betel features an oval shape with dark green colour.

  • Crab Claw herb

crab claw herb or peperomia pellucida

© slertwit/ 123RF

Compared to the Malay betel, the Crab Claw (Sirih Cina) herb has a milder, softer taste.

  • Indian Betel

indian betel leaves or sirih keling

© Rehman Asad/ gettyimages

The Indian betel has a spicier taste to it compared to the other two types. Its leaves are dull green and are medium-sized.

  •  Red Betel

Otherwise known as Sirih Udang, this type features red veins on its backside as well as on its handle (resembling a prawn, just like its name).

Other than that, Sirih Gading or Money Plant has also gained quite a reputation as one of the best houseplants. It’s especially popular among Feng Shui practitioners. We’ll dive deeper into the Crab Claw herb, how to grow it, and also mention its major benefits for health.

READ: Calathea plant: How to grow and care for it

Get to know the Crab Claw herb

The Crab Claw herb or its scientific name Peperomia Pellucida is also known as Ketumpang Air among the Malay community. It could grow up to a height of about 15cm to 45cm in its lifetime. The shape resembles that of a poker card (heart-shaped) with soft, succulent stems. It normally grows near the house as well as in gardens with moist soil. This makes it easy for Peperomia Pellucida to be found at the side of a ditch or even paddy fields.

Is Peperomia pellucida edible

Yes, Peperomia Pellucia or the Crab Claw herb is edible and often used as a medicinal herb.

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What is the use of Peperomia Pellucida 

health benefits of peperomia pellucida

© avemario/ 123RF

Before we go further on how to plant Crab Claw herb at your home, let’s first find out the health benefits of this plant. There are plenty of Peperomia Pellucida’s benefits and are said to contain a variety of ingredients that can act as analgesic, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory. The most interesting thing is that all parts of Peperomia Pellucida can be used for your health. It is said to be able to relieve fever and headache. Let’s take a closer look at how the Crab Claw herb can benefit us.

  • Treating your acne naturally

It’s believed that Peperomia Pellucida is very effective in getting rid of acne. How to use Peperomia Pellucida for acne?  All you have to do is to take a few leaves, wash them well, and pound them until their texture is fine. Lastly, apply the pounded leaves on your face or acne and use it as a facial mask.

  • Reducing your body temperature during fever

If you have a fever, soak the Crab Claw leaves in water. Next, use the water and apply it to your face, neck, and body to reduce high body temperature caused by fever.

  •  Relieving your headaches

For those who want to eat healthily, the Peperomia Pellucida can also be eaten. How do you eat Peperomia Pellucida? You can eat it as a salad to reap its nutrition. Its shoot is said to have a delicious taste and is fatty in a good way. Plus, it’s said that the Crab Claw herb is very effective in treating headaches or migraines. Apart from that, you can boil the Crab Claw herb as a drink for inner health. Try to drink it while it’s still warm.

  • Treating burns and scalding marks

If you have minor burns or scalding marks, pound the Peperomia Pellucida as refine as you could. Next, apply them onto the wound and wrap it up with a towel or gauze. Repeat the steps if necessary.

  •  Relieving stomach aches

Simply boil these leaves and drink the water while it’s still warm to relieve your stomach ache.

  •  Relieving gout

Gout can be a beast that hurts you, but you could ease the pain a little bit by boiling the Peperomia Pellucida and drink it twice a day.

How do you grow Peperomia Pellucida or Crab Claw herb

Make this medicinal plant as part of your herbal plant collection in your garden! Here’s how to grow it.

Step 1:

Prepare Peperomia Pellcuida’s habitat. You need a moist environment to plant the Peperomia Pellucida. The Crab Claw herb won’t be able to grow well in an environment that is too warm. If you’re planting it in a pot, place it in a dim-lit area away from the direct sunlight.

Step 2:

Most types of soil can be used where the Crab Claw herb can reproduce easily. Here’s how a mixture of soil can be used to grow the Peperomia Pellucida. Prepare these ingredients:

  • Black palm soil

black palm soil for growing peperomia pellucida

© Nur Sabihah

  • Paddy husk

paddy husk to grow crab claw herb (peperomia pellucida)

© Nur Sabihah

  • Coco peat

coco peat to grow crab claw herb (peperomia pellucida

© Nur Sabihah

Mix all three ingredients with two (2) cups of black palm soil, one (1) cup of paddy husk, and one (1) cup of coco peat. Your soil mixture is ready to be used!

soil mixture to grow crab claw herb (peperomia pellucida)

© Nur Sabihah

Step 3:

Prepare the Crab Claw herb seeds. Sow these seeds in the soil mixture. Pour some water if the soil is too dry.

peperomia pellucida seeds

© Nur Sabihah

Step 4:

Wait for the Peperomia plant to grow and reproduce rapidly! Most importantly, make sure that the soil is moist all the time for it to be fertile.

Does the Peperomia plant purify the air

According to NASA research, Peperomia cleans a significant portion of indoor air. The plants’ foliages purify the air by reducing the level of formaldehyde indoors by 47%.

READ: Fittonia (nerve plant): How to grow and care for it

Not only is it healthy and easy to plant, the Crab Claw herb or Peperomia Pellucida is also suitable as an attractive indoor plant. What’s more, it’s not toxic for pets or small children, making it a safe plant for homes too! So what are you waiting for? Beautify your home garden with this herbal plant, loaded with health benefits now!

Edited by Rebecca Hani Romeli

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