Alismataceae Ventenat

(Water-plantain family)

Welcome to Alismataceae

Alismataceae are a cosmopolitan family of aquatic and wetland plants comprising 17 genera and approximately 113 species (Les & Tippery, 2013) [1],[2]. This group includes commercially important ornamentals used to decorate aquariums (Echinodorus, Hydrocleys, Limnophyton, Sagittaria) and water gardens (Alisma, Echinodorus, Hydrocleys, Limnocharis, Sagittaria). The starchy potato-like tubers of some species (e.g. Sagittaria cuneata, S. latifolia, S. sagittifolia, and S. trifolia) contain up to 7% protein and are eaten in China, Japan, North America and Sweden. The bases of Alisma plants are eaten by the Kalmuck. The stems, flower clusters and spinach-like eaves of Limnocharis flava are consumed in India, Java and throughout southeast Asia.  Several species (Limnocharis flava, Sagittaria trifolia, Sagittaria guayanensis) are used as fodder for swine in Bangladesh, Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia.  The bitter juices found in many Alismataceae have been used medicinally, but are potent enough to poison cattle or cause paralysis in humans if consumed in excess. The astringent properties of Alisma are diuretic and diaphoretic and have been used to treat urinary disorders. Sagittaria provides a diuretic and antiscorbutic. Limnocharis flava is cooked and eaten to treat rheumatism in Sri Lanka. Limnocharis flava is a source of manure in Malaysia and Sagittaria latifolia has been used to treat wastewater for nutrient removal (Haynes & Les, 2005) [3].


  1. Les, D. H. & Tippery, N. P. Early Events in Monocot Evolution (Wilkin, P. & Mayo, S. J.) (Cambridge University Press, 2013).
  2. Haynes, R. R., Les, D. H. & Holm-Nielsen, L. B. The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants, Vol. IV, Flowering Plants: Monocotyledons, Alismatanae and Commelinanae (except Gramineae). 11–18 (Springer-Verlag, 1998).
  3. Haynes, R. R. & Les, D. H. Nature Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. 1-4 (Nature Publishing Group, 2005).
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith