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Limnocharis flava - (L.) Buchenau

Common Name Sawah Lettuce, Sawah Flowering Rush
Family Alismataceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats In or at the edge of water[331 ]. Shallow swamps, ditches, pools and wet rice fields, occurring usually in stagnant fresh water[413 ].
Range Southern S. America - Argentina, Paraguay, north through Central America to Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Wet Soil Water Plants Full sun
Limnocharis flava Sawah Lettuce, Sawah Flowering Rush

Limnocharis flava Sawah Lettuce, Sawah Flowering Rush


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Sawah lettuce (Limnocharis flava), also known as yellow sawah lettuve, yellow burr head, or yellow velvetleaf, is an aquatic flowering, clump-forming, perennial plant which produces erect stems about 20-40cm tall from a short thick rhizome. It is native to Dominican Republic, Mexico, Haiti, Cuba, South America, and Central America but widely naturalized in southern and southeastern Asia. The triangular leaves form into clumps. The stems are hollow. The inflorescence consists of three-lobed yellow flowers. The fruits are spherical. Though considered as an invasive plant and has great potential to become a weed, it is a known vegetable in some countries. In particular, the flower stalk and leaves are used in dishes as well as the immature flower buds. The plant is also used for green manure.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Limnocharis flava is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist or wet soil and can grow in water.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Alisma flavum L. Damasonium flavum Mill. Limnocharis emarginata Humb. & Bonpl. Limnocharis laforesti

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves
Edible Uses:

Leaves, leaf stems, flower stalks and young inflorescences are eaten cooked[317 ]. They can be steamed like endive or spinach, added to soups or mixed with other vegetables[301 ]. The young leaves and tops of the plant are boiled or cooked in mixed soups[413 ]. The vegetable contains relatively high levels of Calcium, Iron and vitamin A, which are nutrients that are frequently insufficient in the diets of women in low-income countries[413 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

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.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Green manure

Agroforestry Uses: The plants are sometimes used for green manure[317 ]. Other Uses None known

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Grows best in shallow, neutral to slightly acidic water[200 ]. If allowed to grow unchecked, the plant may become a very invasive environmental weed of streams and wetlands. It has become a serious weed in rice fields, irrigation canals and wetlands in South-East Asia[413 ]. Clumps of the weed provide a congenial breeding site for disease-vectors, including mosquitoes, which encourages the spread of diseases such as Japan fever and dengue fever[413 ]. Plants are reproduced mainly by seeds - these are dispersed via the production of fruitlets, which are buoyant and carried by water to new localities, dispersing seeds along the way[413 ]. Fruiting takes place throughout the year, with a single fruit producing about 1,000 seeds and a single plant producing about 1,000 fruits per year[413 ]. Bloom Color: Bright Yellow White/Near White. Spacing: 18-24 in. (45-60 cm).

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - seed must be kept damp or it loses viability[200 ]. Sow in a constantly damp medium at 20c, cover with silver sand and immerse in 1cm of water once the seedlings have germinated[200 ]. Division

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Sawah Lettuce, Sawah Flowering Rush, Bak kanjong, Bengok, Berek, Bon cheen, Etjeng, Genjur, Jinjir, Keo neo, Ne thao, Phak kanjong, Phak pai, Sawah-flower rush, Sawah-lettuce, Talapat Rusee, Trakiet paong, Velvetleaf, Yellow burhead,

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Found In

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

Argentina, Asia, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Central America, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Haiti, Hawaii, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico*, Nicaragua, North America, Pacific, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, SE Asia, South America, Thailand, USA, Venezuela, Vietnam,

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 : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(L.) Buchenau

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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