American Water Plantain (Alisma subcordatum) – Interesting Facts

American Water Plantain

Alisma subcordatum, also known as the American Water Plantain, is a type of perennial aquatic plant. It belongs to the water-plantain family, Alismataceae.

This plant grows up to 3 feet (0.91 meters) tall and has lance to oval-shaped leaves that rise from bulbous corms with fibrous roots.

The leaves that form underwater are weak and quick to rot, so they rarely remain on adult plants. The species name “subcordatum” means “almost heart-shaped.”

When Do the Flowers of American Water Plantain Bloom?

The American Water Plantain produces a branched inflorescence with white to pink 3-petaled flowers. These flowers bloom from June to September.

How Do Animals and Humans Use the American Water Plantain Plant?

Seeds of the American Water Plantain are eaten by waterfowl and upland birds.

Native Americans dried and ate the submerged root-like structures of the plant.

The Cherokee used the plant to make a topical aid for sores, wounds, bruises, swelling, and ulcers.

The Cree took the stem base internally to treat stomach and bowel conditions.

Where Can You Find the American Water Plantain?

This plant is native to most of the eastern and central United States and Canada, from Texas to Georgia, and north to Manitoba and New Brunswick.

However, it has not been reported in Florida.

You can find American Water Plantain in the mud of still to slow-moving water, seeps, and wetlands. It’s also found in marshes, ditches, shallow lakes, and streams.

What Habitats Does the American Water Plantain Prefer?

Anthropogenic (Man-Made or Disturbed Habitats)

Though human activities can often harm natural habitats, the American Water Plantain can still be found in man-made or disturbed habitats.

Lacustrine (In Lakes or Ponds)

This plant can be found in lakes or ponds, where it grows in the mud of still to slow-moving water.


American Water Plantain thrives in marshes, which are wetland habitats with soft, muddy ground.

Riverine (In Rivers or Streams)

This plant also grows in rivers or streams, particularly in the mud of still to slow-moving water.

Shores of Rivers or Lakes

The American Water Plantain can be found along the shores of rivers or lakes, where it grows in the mud of still to slow-moving water.

Wetland Margins (Edges of Wetlands)

This plant prefers the edges of wetlands, which are areas between land and water where the soil is saturated or covered by water for at least part of the year.

What Are the Key Characteristics of The American Water Plantain Plant?

  • Habitat: Aquatic wetlands
  • New England States: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
  • Leaf Position: Some leaves float on the surface of the water.
  • Leaf Arrangement: Basal (leaves grow only at the base of the plant)
  • Leaf Blade Length: Up to 150 mm
  • Petal or Sepal Number: 3 petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
  • Petal Color: White
  • Specific Leaf Type: Leaf blade is one segment, not divided
  • Floating leaf shape: Elliptic (widest near the middle and tapering at both ends) or ovate (widest below the middle, broadly tapering at both ends)
  • Underwater Leaf Blade Width: 0 mm
  • Fruit Type: Dry, but doesn’t split open when ripe
  • Underwater Leaf Length: 0 mm

Scientific Classification

Scientific Name:Alisma subcordatum
Also Known As:American Water Plantain
Conservation Status:Least Concern

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