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Common water plantain is a freshwater, herbaceous, perennial water plant of the genus Alisma (family Alismataceae). This plant has numerous synonyms; some of these include: Alisma brevipes, Alisma plantago-aquatica subsp. Brevipes, Alisma plantago-aquatica subsp. Subcordatum, Alisma plantago-aquatica var. americanum, Alisma trivial, Alisma plantago-aquatica var. brevipes, and Alisma plantago-aquatica var. parviflorum. This plant has been used medicinally for hundreds of years in a variety of ways. Many seek this plant to grow as an ornamental in home ponds.
Distinguishing Features: Water plantain is a tall, aquatic plant that is often found in shallow water or along the muddy banks of slow-moving waterways. It has very small flowers and many thin, branching stems that look somewhat decorative. These stalks become hardy and woody once the flowers have died.
Flowers: (Common) water-plantain starts to flower in June (depending on geographic location), and continues flowering throughout the summer. Individual flowers are very short-lived; they typically open in the early afternoon, and wither (usually) within six hours. Flowers have three green sepals (modified leaves) and three white or pinkish petals and produce achene fruits. These tiny flowers occur in whorled groups forming a narrowing raceme. They have 3 petals, white to pale pink, with a yellowish spot at base. The flower has 6 stamens and several carpels.
Leaves: Most leaves are aerial, with some floating and submerged leaves. Aerial and floating leaves have long stalks, 8 to 25 cm (3 to 10 “) long. Blade is ovate, with a rounded or cordate base and entire margins.
Height: This aquatic plant can grow anywhere from 30 to 100 cm (12 to 40”) in height.
Habitat: This plant can be found on or near water such as in shallow lakes, rivers, ditches, and ponds. In particular it likes the muddy areas. It can be found throughout the northern hemisphere, South America, and North Africa. It also grows in New Zealand and Australia.
Edible parts: Leaves and roots. Roots must be cooked. According to Plants for a Future, the root is acrid and must be dried or cooked before use. Leaves and petioles - must be thoroughly cooked. Apparently these require long boiling. Author Daniel Moerman says that the Iroquois used to use this plant to make a tea that was used by forest runners.
Other name: Mad-Dog Weed.
EdibleWildFood.com is informational in nature. While we strive to be 100% accurate, it is solely up to the reader to ensure proper plant identification. Some wild plants are poisonous or can have serious adverse health effects.
We are not health professionals, medical doctors, nor are we nutritionists. It is up to the reader to verify nutritional information and health benefits with qualified professionals for all edible plants listed in this web site. Please click here for more information.