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Alisma subcordatum (American water plantain)
Smith, R.W.

Alisma subcordatum

Alisma subcordatum Raf.

American Water Plantain

Alismataceae (Water-Plantain Family)

Synonym(s): Alisma plantago-aquatica ssp. subcordatum, Alisma plantago-aquatica var. parviflorum


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

A tall, spindly, many-branched aquatic with small white (rarely pink) flowers in whorls. In this typical emergent aquatic, the lower part is often submerged, while the upper part is exposed. Leaves formed underwater are ribbon-like and soon rot; they are seldom seen on adult plants. The bulb-like base of several species of Alisma was dried and eaten by Native Americans.

Members of the Water-Plantain Family grow in water, in swamps, on muddy banks, or occasionally in wet sand. Each plant has long-petioled leaves in a clump with a flowering stem rising among them. The flowers have 3 green sepals, 3 white or pink-tinged petals, 6 or more stamens, and several pistils. Stamens and pistils may be in separate flowers.


From the Image Gallery

6 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Achene
Size Notes: Up to about 2 feet tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct


USA: AL , AR , AZ , CA , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , QC
Native Distribution: Manitoba east to New Brunswick, south to Georgia, west to Texas, and north to North Dakota; also in New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Oregon.
Native Habitat: Shallow, freshwater marshes, sluggish streams, ponds, and lakes.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium


Use Food: Submerged root-like structure is edible; it was dried and eaten by First Nations People. (Niering)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Alisma subcordatum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Alisma subcordatum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Alisma subcordatum


Record Modified: 2022-11-09
Research By: TWC Staff

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