Scientific name

Alisma L.

Common names

water plantain, mad dog weed, mud plantain



Similar genera

Echinodorus, Orontium, Sagittaria

Native distribution

Northern Hemisphere

Species cultivated

Alisma lanceolata With.

A. plantago-aquatica L.

A. subcordatum Raf.

Adventive distribution

almost cosmopolitan

Weed status

Alisma plantago-aquatica and A. lanceolata are often weeds in rice fields in various countries.


emergent, broad-leaved rosette

Brief description

Annual or perennial. Stem a short rhizomatous corm. Leaves in a basal rosette, erect, petiolate, linear to ovate, venation palmate with numerous cross veins; base rounded or cordate; margin entire; juvenile leaves submersed. Inflorescence a compound cyme or panicle of successive whorls of 3 or more branches of flowers. Flowers bisexual, with 3 green sepals and 3 white to pink petals with yellowish spot at base of petal; stamens 6, in 3 pairs; carpels numerous, in 1 circular to triangular whorl. Dispersal by seed.

Natural habitat

shallow marginal water of lakes, rivers, streams, swamps, and wet ground

Additional comments

A genus of eight accepted species, and an additional three accepted hybrids; at least two species are used as pond plants.