Dichondra repens

Kidney weed

Family: Convolvulaceae

A very low, prostrate, herbaceous perennial with creeping stems, rooting readily at the nodes, forming a height not usually more than 4 to 5 cm. 

It has a widespread natural distribution, occurring commonly through the entirety of the coastal subdivisions of NSW, as well as commonly in the tablelands and western slopes, extending to the south-western plains. It spreads up the coast and inland through Queensland, to Cairns. It occurs over most of Victoria and Tasmania and to the Adelaide and Port Lincoln-Kangaroo Island areas in South Australia as well as a long way north of here. It also occurs on the south and west coast of Western Australia, from Perth around to around Codingup.

It occurs in a wide range of habitats such as wet to dry sclerophyll forests and woodlands as well as grasslands and will persist in paddocks. It can also colonise lawns and landscape areas. 

Dichondra spp. have simple and alternate leaves or leaves coming from a node in a cluster. In this species, leaves are single or in clusters at the nodes, to 3 cm long, and to 3 cm wide, kidney-shaped (reniform) to almost round, both surfaces sparsely to moderately hairy (this characteristic can vary). 

Dichondra spp. have small flowers with 5 sepals and petals, and 5 stamens surrounding 1 carpel. Flowers are typically produced just above the foliage. 

In this species, flowers are white to pale yellow or greenish, to 6 mm in diameter, star-shaped / stellate with a tubular base about 1 mm long, occurring throughout the year, but mainly spring–summer.

The capsule is deeply 2-lobed and shorter than the calyx. The flowering/fruiting stalks are to 60 mm long when the fruit releases its seed.

In the garden

An easy-to-grow plant and very useful in the garden as a dense groundcover.

The flowers are not overly conspicuous but are interesting in their own right. Most gardeners would likely go for something like Viola hederacea before this one, which has much more showy flowers and will fulfill the same role in the garden. 

It is adaptable in various soils, but needs ample water to grow at its best. 

It is also a good plant for a hanging basket plant. Has been used as a lawn substitute in full sun.

It can become invasive in garden beds.

Plants are available commercially. A useful plant to suppress weeds and cover the ground in a shady area. 


By division – very easily. Can also be done by seed.

Other information

Two taxa are currently recognised by NSW

Dichondra is a small genus of flowering plants in the morning glory family, Convolvulaceae. About 10 species are recognised, two of which are native in Australia. NSW currently recognises two taxa, one formal and one informal species:

  • Dichondra repens – leaves equally hairy on both sides; pedicels to 50 mm long
  • Dichondra sp. Inglewood – leaves much more densely hairy on lower surface, pedicels only to 15 mm long. 

These two taxa have overlapping geographic ranges.

This species regenerates from fire very readily, from rhizomes, as well as from the seedbank. 

Dichondrafrom the Greek/Latin words di / dio (δύ / δύο), meaning “two”, and chondros (χόνδρος), meaning “grain”, referring to the two-lobed fruits. 

repensLatin meaning “with a creeping or crawling habit” (root of the word ‘repent’).

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

Wikipedia profile page for genus Dichondra https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dichondra

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) Dichondra repens profile page:      https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Dichondra~repens

Plants of South Eastern New South Wales (Lucid/Online) – Dichondra repens profile page https://apps.lucidcentral.org/plants_se_nsw/text/entities/dichondra_repens.htm 

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke