Genus:
Alisma L.

Alisma plantago-aquatica L.

Common water-plantain is a semi-aquatic or aquatic plant that is unrelated to true plantains, which are members of the genus Plantago.

[KSP]

Kew Species Profiles

General Description
.

Common water-plantain is a semi-aquatic or aquatic plant that is unrelated to true plantains, which are members of the genus Plantago.

Alisma is the ancient Greek physician Dioscorides' name for a plantain-leaved plant. The specific epithet, plantago is from the Latin for the sole of a foot, referring to the flat leaves, and aquatica is from the Latin for 'living in water', referring to the plant's habitat.

There are two subspecies of common water-plantain: Alisma plantago-aquatica subspecies plantago-aquatica, which is the most common and widespread of the two, and A. plantago-aquatica subsp. orientale, which occurs only in Asia.

Species Profile
Geography and distribution

Common water-plantain is a widespread temperate species occurring across Eurasia and from North Africa to Tanzania. It is also considered to be native in parts of Australia.

It is widely cultivated and has been introduced and become naturalised in parts of North and South America, Australia and New Zealand.

Alisma plantago-aquatica subspecies orientale is native to eastern and central Asia.

Description

Overview: An aquatic or semi-aquatic perennial with a clumped habit, up to 1 m tall.

Leaves: Rosettes of grey-green, elliptic, ribbed leaves, rounded at the base, up to 30 cm long on long fleshy stems.

Flowers: Tall open panicles of white flowers, sometimes with a pink or pale lilac tinge, up to 15 mm in diameter. Petals and sepals are in threes; there are six stamens (male parts) and numerous (variable) stigmas/carpels (female parts).

Fruits: Made up of a cluster of numerous achenes (dry fruits containing one seed) up to 7 mm in diameter. The fruits are buoyant, allowing water-borne dispersal.

Seeds: Deep reddish-brown to light pink or yellow. Remaining viable in water for many years.

Flowering stems emerge from the centre of the leaf bases, and delicate white, pink or lilac flowers unfurl in the afternoon for only a few hours, before closing again at dusk. During this time, the flowers are pollinated by flies, which are attracted by small drops of nectar.

Uses

The rhizome (underground horizontal stem) is used as a diuretic, but prolonged use may cause gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines).

According to the Flora of Pakistan , the powdered root has been used as a cure for hydrophobia, and fresh leaves are used in homeopathy. The starch-rich rootstock is also eaten in some countries.

John Ruskin, the well-known Victorian art critic, believed that the curve of this plant's leaves was representative of 'divine proportion', and advocated the emulation of nature and natural forms such as this in architecture, as in the Gothic style.

Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life worldwide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.

12 collections of Alisma plantago-aquatica seeds are held in Kew's Millennium Seed Bank based at Wakehurst in West Sussex.

Cultivation

Common water-plantain makes a good marginal or emergent plant for a wildlife garden or around lakes or garden ponds. It performs best in full sun and can grow in any aspect, in an exposed or sheltered site. It can be planted in up to 30 cm of water.

It can be propagated from ripe seed, freshly sown, or by dividing the rhizomes in spring. It will reach full height within 2-5 years.

This species at Kew

Alisma plantago-aquatica was first recorded in cultivation at Kew in 1768. It was first recorded growing wild in its natural habitat in the Gardens in 1873.

In recent years, it has been found growing wild in the ditch alongside the towpath, in one spot beside the Lake, and in the Larch Pond in the Conservation Area. It has been planted near the Sir Joseph Banks Building and can also be seen in cultivation in the Aquatic Garden, next to the Grass Garden. It can also be found growing at Wakehurst, Kew's sister garden.

Dried specimens of Alisma plantago-aquatica are held in Kew's Herbarium, where they are available to researchers by appointment.

Specimens of root and tubers of common water-plantain, used in medicine, are held in Kew's Economic Botany Collection, where they are available to researchers by appointment.

Distribution
Australia, Tanzania
Ecology
Pond margins, ditches, canals, slow-flowing rivers, streams and marshes; in shallow water or fertile mud.
Conservation
Least Concern according to IUCN Red List criteria.
Hazards

Poisonous if ingested in large quantities.

[UPFC]
Conservation
IUCN Red List Assessment (2021): LC.

[FTEA]

Alismataceae, Susan Carter. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1960

Morphology General Habit
Aquatic herb.
Morphology Leaves
Petiole (10–)15–30(–40) cm. long; leaf-blade ovate, (5–)10–15(–25) × (2.5-)5–7(–12) cm.; base rounded to subcordate; nerves 5–9, not all radiating from the apex of the petiole.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences Peduncles
Peduncle (2–)6–10 dm. high.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence of about 6 whorls of branches and flowers; bracts membranous, lanceolate, those of the lowest whorl 1–2 × 0.5 cm., with several smaller bracteoles.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Pedicel
Pedicels up to 2 cm. long.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Sepals ovate, 2 mm. long.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Petals 4 mm. long, white, delicate.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens 2 mm. long; anthers 0.75 mm. long, narrow; filaments attached above the base.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Carpels
Carpels ovate, compressed, less than 1 mm. long; style about 1 mm. long, erect or slightly curved.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Achenes broadly ovate, with 2 or 3 ridges on the dorsal surface, pale brown to yellowish.
Figures
Fig. 3, p. 6.
Habitat
Marshes and river margins, usually growing in shallow water; 900–2280 m.
Distribution
temperate regions of Europe, Asia, Australia and Africaaccording to Samuelsson (Arkiv Bot. 24A, No. 7 (1932)) distribution in the North American continent is limited to subsp. brevipes (Greene) Sam., while subsp. orientale Sam. is found in eastern and central Asia K3 K4 T2 U2

[KSP]
Use
Ornamental, medicine.

[UPFC]
Use Food
Used for food.
Use Materials
Used as material.
Use Medicines
Medical uses.

Native to:

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Altay, Amur, Assam, Austria, Baleares, Baltic States, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Burundi, Buryatiya, Central European Rus, China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, Chita, Corse, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, East Aegean Is., East European Russia, East Himalaya, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Inner Mongolia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Irkutsk, Italy, Japan, Kamchatka, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Khabarovsk, Kirgizstan, Korea, Krasnoyarsk, Kriti, Krym, Lebanon-Syria, Manchuria, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, North Caucasus, North European Russi, Northwest European R, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Primorye, Qinghai, Romania, Rwanda, Sakhalin, Sardegna, Sicilia, South European Russi, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Tadzhikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Transcaucasus, Turkey, Turkey-in-Europe, Tuva, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, West Himalaya, West Siberia, Xinjiang, Yakutskiya, Yugoslavia, Zaïre

Introduced into:

Alaska, Angola, Argentina South, Cape Provinces, Chile Central, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, New South Wales, New Zealand North, New Zealand South, Northern Provinces, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Zimbabwe

English
Common water-plantain

Alisma plantago-aquatica L. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Day, C.D. [746], Turkey K000341682
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 4998], India K001104452

First published in Sp. Pl.: 342 (1753)

Accepted by

  • Andrews, F.W. (1956). The Flowering Plants of the Sudan 3: 1-579. T.Buncle & co., LTD., Arbroath, Scotland.
  • Boulos, L. (1995). Flora of Egypt Checklist: i-xii, 1-287. Al Hadara Publishing, Cairo.
  • Boulos, L. (2005). Flora of Egypt 4: 1-617. Al Hadara Publishing, Cairo.
  • Carter, S. (1960). Alismataceae Flora of Tropical East Africa: 1-16.
  • Castroviejo, S. & al. (eds.) (2010). Flora Iberica 17: 1-298. Real Jardín Botánico, CSIC, Madrid.
  • Danin, A. & Fragman- Sapir, O. (2019). Flora of Israel Online http://flora.org.il/en/plants/.
  • Darbyshire, I., Kordofani, M., Farag, I., Candiga, R. & Pickering, H. (eds.) (2015). The Plants of Sudan and South Sudan: 1-400. Kew publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Davis, P.H. (ed.) (1984). Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands 8: 1-632. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.
  • Dobignard, D. & Chatelain, C. (2010). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 1: 1-455. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
  • Edwards, S., Demissew, S. & Hedberg, I. (eds.) (1997). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea 6: 1-586. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia & The Department of Systematic Botany, Upps.
  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee (2000). Flora of North America North of Mexico 22: 1-352. Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford.
  • Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds.) (2003). Plants of Southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14.: i-vi, 1-1231. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
  • Ghafoor, A. (1974). Flora of Pakistan 68: 1-12. Department of Botany, University of Karachi, Karachi.
  • Govaerts, R. (1995). World Checklist of Seed Plants 1(1, 2): 1-483, 1-529. MIM, Deurne.
  • Grubov, V.I. (2001). Key to the Vascular Plants of Mongolia 1: 1-411. Science Publishers, Inc. Enfield, USA. Plymouth, U.K.
  • Healey, A.J. & Edgar, E. (1980). Flora of New Zealand 3: 1-220. R.E.Owen, Government Printer, Wellington.
  • Merkodovich, N.A. (ed.) (1941). Flora Uzbekistana 1: 1-566. Izd-va Akademii nauk Uzbekskoi SSR, Tashkent.
  • Mostaph, M.K. & Uddin, S.B. (2013). Dictionary of plant names of Bangladesh, Vasc. Pl.: 1-434. Janokalyan Prokashani, Chittagong, Bangladesh.
  • Navas Bustamante, L.E. (1973). Flora de la Cuenca de Santiago de Chile 1: 1-301. Comisión Central de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Chile.
  • Nikitina, E.V. & Protopopov, G.F. (eds.) (1952). Flora Kirgizskoi SSR 1: 1-103. Frunze : Izd-vo KirgizFAN SSSR.
  • Ovczinnikov, P.N. (ed.) (1957). Flora Tadzhikskoi SSR 1: 1-547. Izd-vo Akademii nauk SSSR, Moskva.
  • Takhtajan, A.L. (ed.) (2006). Konspekt Flora Kavkaza 2: 1-466. Editio Universitatis Petropolitanae.
  • Timberlake, J.R. & Martins, E.S. (eds.) (2009). Flora Zambesiaca 12(2): 1-208. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Tohmé, G. & Tohmé, H. (2014). Illustrated Flora of Lebanon, ed. 2: 1-610. CNRS Publication.
  • Townsend, C.C. & Guest, E. (eds.) (1985). Flora of Iraq 8: 1-440. Ministry of Agriculture & Agrarian Reform, Baghdad.
  • Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1980). Flora Europaea 5: 1-452. Cambridge University Press.
  • Wu, Z. & Raven, P.H. (eds.) (2010). Flora of China 23: 1-515. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.
  • Zuloaga, F.O. & Morrone, O. (eds.) (1996). Pteridophyta, Gymnospermae y Angiospermae (Monocotyledoneae) Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares de la República Argentina 1: 1-323. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis.

Literature

Kew Species Profiles

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  • Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (2012).
  • Biological Records Centre (BRC) (2012). Online Atlas of the British and Irish Flora: Alisma plantago-aquatica. Available from: http://www.brc.ac.uk/plantatlas/index.php?q=plant/alisma-plantago-aquatica (accessed 29 April 2012).
  • Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI). Maps Scheme.
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  • Cope, T. (2009). The Wild Flora of Kew Gardens: A Cumulative Checklist from 1759. Kew Publishing, Surrey.
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  • Spencer-Jones, R. & Cuttle, S. (2005). Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland. Kyle Cathie, London.
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Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Boulos, L. (1995). Flora of Egypt Checklist: i-xii, 1-287. Al Hadara Publishing, Cairo.
  • Castroviejo, S. & al. (eds.) (2010). Flora Iberica 17: 1-298. Real Jardín Botánico, CSIC, Madrid.
  • Danin, A. & Fragman- Sapir, O. (2019). Flora of Israel Online http://flora.org.il/en/plants/.
  • Davis, P.H. (ed.) (1984). Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands 8: 1-632. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.
  • Edwards, S., Demissew, S. & Hedberg, I. (eds.) (1997). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea 6: 1-586. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia & The Department of Systematic Botany, Upps.
  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee (2000). Flora of North America North of Mexico 22: 1-352. Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford.
  • Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds.) (2003). Plants of Southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14.: i-vi, 1-1231. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
  • Ghafoor, A. (1974). Flora of Pakistan 68: 1-12. Department of Botany, University of Karachi, Karachi.
  • Grubov, V.I. (2001). Key to the Vascular Plants of Mongolia 1: 1-411. Science Publishers, Inc. Enfield, USA. Plymouth, U.K.
  • H?, P.-H. (1993). Câyc? Vi?tnam. An Illustrated flora of Vietnam 3(1): 1-603d. Pham-hoang Ho, Montréal.
  • Hara, H., Stearn, W.T. & Williams, H.J. (1978). An Enumeration of the Flowering Plants of Nepal 1: 1-154. Trustees of British Museum, London.
  • Healey, A.J. & Edgar, E. (1980). Flora of New Zealand 3: 1-220. R.E.Owen, Government Printer, Wellington.
  • Kharkevich, S.S. (ed.) (1987). Plantae Vasculares Orientalis Extremi Sovietici 2: 1-448. Nauka, Leningrad.
  • Krasnoborov, I.M. (ed.) (2000). Flora of Siberia 1: 1-189. Scientific Publishers, Inc., Enfield, Plymouth.
  • Maire, R. (1952). Flore de l'Afrique du Nord 1: 1-366. Paul Lechevalier, Paris.
  • Merkodovich, N.A. (ed.) (1941). Flora Uzbekistana 1: 1-566. Izd-va Akademii nauk Uzbekskoi SSR, Tashkent.
  • Mostaph, M.K. & Uddin, S.B. (2013). Dictionary of plant names of Bangladesh, Vasc. Pl.: 1-434. Janokalyan Prokashani, Chittagong, Bangladesh.
  • Navas Bustamante, L.E. (1973). Flora de la Cuenca de Santiago de Chile 1: 1-301. Comisión Central de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Chile.
  • Nikitina, E.V. & Protopopov, G.F. (eds.) (1952). Flora Kirgizskoi SSR 1: 1-103. Frunze : Izd-vo KirgizFAN SSSR.
  • Ohwi, J. (1984). Flora of Japan (in English): 1-1067. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
  • Ovczinnikov, P.N. (ed.) (1957). Flora Tadzhikskoi SSR 1: 1-547. Izd-vo Akademii nauk SSSR, Moskva.
  • Pavlov, N.V. (ed.) (1956). Flora Kazakhstana 1: 1-354. Alma-Ata, Izd-vo Akademii nauk Kazakhskoi SSR.
  • Rechinger. K.H. (1971). Flora Iranica 78-86 Naturhistorisches Museums Wien.
  • Symoens, J.J. & Billet, F. (1975). Flore d'Afrique Centrale (Zaïre - Rwanda - Burundi) Alismataceae: 1-21. Jardin Botanique National de Belgique, Meise.
  • Takhtajan, A.L. (ed.) (2006). Konspekt Flora Kavkaza 2: 1-466. Editio Universitatis Petropolitanae.
  • Timberlake, J.R. & Martins, E.S. (eds.) (2009). Flora Zambesiaca 12(2): 1-208. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Tohmé, G. & Tohmé, H. (2014). Illustrated Flora of Lebanon, ed. 2: 1-610. CNRS Publication.
  • Townsend, C.C. & Guest, E. (eds.) (1985). Flora of Iraq 8: 1-440. Ministry of Agriculture & Agrarian Reform, Baghdad.
  • Wu, Z. & Raven, P.H. (eds.) (2010). Flora of China 23: 1-515. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.
  • Zuloaga, F.O. & Morrone, O. (eds.) (1996). Pteridophyta, Gymnospermae y Angiospermae (Monocotyledoneae) Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares de la República Argentina 1: 1-323. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis.

Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • Buchen., A. Engler, Das Pflanzenreich IV. 15: 13 (1903), pro parte.
  • C. H. Wright in Flora of Tropical Africa 8: 207 (1902).
  • L., Sp. Pl.: 342 (1753).

Useful Plants and Fungi of Colombia

  • Diazgranados et al. (2021). Catalogue of plants of Colombia. Useful Plants and Fungi of Colombia project. In prep.
  • Diazgranados, M., Allkin, B., Black N., Cámara-Leret, R., Canteiro C., Carretero J., Eastwood R., Hargreaves S., Hudson A., Milliken W., Nesbitt, M., Ondo, I., Patmore, K., Pironon, S., Turner, R., Ulian, T. (2020). World Checklist of Useful Plant Species. Produced by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity.
  • FPI (2021). Food Plants International. https://fms.cmsvr.com/fmi/webd/Food_Plants_World?homeurl=https://foodplantsinternational.com/plants/
  • GRIN (2021). Germplasm Resources Information Network from the United States Department of Agriculture. https://www.ars-grin.gov/
  • IUCN (2021). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2021-2. https://www.iucnredlist.org.
  • Medicinal Plant Names Services (MPNS) v.10 (2021); http://mpns.kew.org/
  • RBG, Kew (2021). Kew Economic Botany Collection. https://ecbot.science.kew.org/
  • Willis, K.J. (ed.) (2017). State of the World’s Plants 2017. Report. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

  • Flora of Tropical East Africa

    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

  • Kew Backbone Distributions

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

  • Kew Science Photographs

    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

  • Kew Species Profiles

    Kew Species Profiles
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

  • Useful Plants and Fungi of Colombia

    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0