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Alisma plantago-aquatica - L.

Common Name Great Water Plantain, ZE-XIE, European water plantain, American water plantain, Northern water plan
Family Alismataceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards The fresh leaves and roots are toxic but the toxic principal is destroyed by heat or by drying[13, 46]. The seed is said to promote sterility. By contrast it is also said to promote conception [301].
Habitats Ditches, damp ground and shallow pond margins in water up to 15cm deep[13, 17, 24].
Range Northern temperate regions of Europe, including Britain, Asia and America.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Fully Hardy Wet Soil Water Plants Full sun
Alisma plantago-aquatica Great Water Plantain, ZE-XIE, European water plantain,  American water plantain, Northern water plan

Alisma plantago-aquatica Great Water Plantain, ZE-XIE, European water plantain,  American water plantain, Northern water plan


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Alisma plantago-aquatica is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.9 m (3ft) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in flower from June to August, and the seeds ripen from July to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Flies.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers wet soil and can grow in water.


A. parviflorum. A. subcordatum. A. triviale. Pursh.


 Pond; Bog Garden;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses:

Root - cooked[13, 46, 61, 74]. Rich in starch[114]. Caution is advised, the root is acrid if it is not dried or well cooked before use[2, 183]. Leaves and petioles - must be thoroughly cooked. They require long boiling and have a salty flavour[105, 179].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antibacterial;  Anticholesterolemic;  Astringent;  Contraceptive;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Hypoglycaemic;  Hypotensive;  

The leaves are antibacterial, anticholesterolemic, diaphoretic, diuretic, hypoglycaemic and hypotensive[4, 147, 176]. They are used in the treatment of cystitis, dysentery, renal calculus, gravel etc[4]. The fresh leaf is rubefacient[222]. It is used in the treatment of leprosy[218] and is also applied locally to bruises and swellings[4]. Dried stem bases eaten, or grated and taken with water in treating digestive disorders such as heartburn, cramps and stomach flu[257]. The powdered seed is an astringent, used in cases of bleeding[4]. The seed is also said to promote sterility[218]. The root contains an essential oil and has a wide range of medicinal uses[176, 218, 283]. It is antibacterial, anticholesterolemic, diuretic and hypotensive[176]. It is said to lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels[238] whilst it also has an antibacterial action on Staphylococcus, Pneumococci and Mycobacterium[176]. The root is used in the treatment of oliguria, oedema, nephritis, acute diarrhoea, cholesterolaemia and fatty liver[176]. It has been thought of as a cure for rabies, though this has not been substantiated[4]. The whole plant is believed to promote conception[218]. The root is harvested before the plant comes into flower and is dried for later use[238]. A homeopathic remedy is obtained from the fresh root[4].

Other Uses

None known

Cultivation details

Succeeds in a sunny position in boggy ground or shallow water up to 25cm deep[200]. Plants often self-sow aggressively when in a suitable position[1, 56]. The subspecies A. plantago-maritima orientale. Sam. is the form used medicinally in China[176]. The subspecies A. plantago-maritima parviflorum (Syn A. parviflorum, A. subcordatum) is the form used medicinally in America[222]. Plants are very attractive to slugs[K].


Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Place the pot in about 3cm of water to keep the soil wet. Pot up the seedlings when large enough to handle and keep in the cold frame for the first winter, planting out in late spring. Division in spring or autumn. Fairly easy, the divisions can be planted straight out into their permanent positions.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Subject : Alisma plantago-aquatica  
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