Open the Advanced Search

Ribbon-leaved Water-plantain

Alisma gramineum

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Alismataceae (Water Plantain)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Fens, marshes, mud, ponds, water, waterside, wetland.

White, 3 petals
White or pale lilac flowers, up to 7mm wide.
A ring of dry nutlets. Each nutlet is widest in the upper half and their styles bend backwards.
An aquatic perennial, mostly submerged. Narrow, ribbon-like leaves. Short lived perennial.
Other Names:
Grass-leaved Water-plantain, Grasslike Waterplantain, Narrowleaf Water-plantain, Ribbonleaf Water-plantain.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Other Information


Alisma gramineum is a perennial herb that is native to California. It belongs to the Alismataceae family and has several common names, including narrowleaf water-plantain, grasslike waterplantain, grass-leaved water-plantain, and narrow-leaf water-plantain. It has stalked flowers that are whorled in open clusters on many branches coming off the main stem, and individual flowers are usually pale pink and about 1/3 inch in size. Alisma gramineum can be found across Europe and Asia, as well as North America, and it typically grows in shallow, eutrophic water at the edge of lakes, rivers, and fenland drains. It has been assigned a California Rare Plant Rank of 2B.2, which means it is rare, threatened, or endangered in California and common elsewhere.


Ribbon-leaved Water-plantain (Alisma gramineum) is a herbaceous aquatic plant that is widely distributed in North America and Eurasia. It is an important species for both wildlife and humans, making it a valuable addition to any wetland area.

One of the most notable features of Alisma gramineum is its long, ribbon-like leaves. These leaves can grow up to 60 cm in length, making them a distinctive part of the plant's appearance. They are also covered in soft, downy hairs, giving them a soft and velvety texture.

The flowers of Alisma gramineum are small and inconspicuous, with white or pink petals and a yellow center. They grow in dense clusters on spikes that rise above the water's surface, attracting pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and other insects. The plant's seeds are also an important food source for waterfowl, such as ducks and geese, as well as for other wetland wildlife.

Alisma gramineum is an important plant for human use as well. Its leaves and roots have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, particularly in traditional Chinese medicine. The plant is believed to have diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful for treating conditions such as edema and urinary tract infections.

One of the key benefits of Alisma gramineum is its ability to grow in wetland areas. This makes it an ideal choice for restoring degraded wetlands and improving water quality. By absorbing excess nutrients and pollutants from the water, the plant can help to prevent harmful algal blooms and improve the overall health of the ecosystem.

Ribbon-leaved Water-plantain (Alisma gramineum) is a valuable plant species with a wide range of uses and benefits. Its attractive appearance, medicinal properties, and ability to improve water quality make it a valuable addition to any wetland area. Whether you are a gardener, naturalist, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of nature, Alisma gramineum is definitely worth exploring.

Another important aspect to consider is Alisma gramineum's adaptability. This plant is able to grow in a wide range of habitats, from still water to slow-moving streams, and can tolerate a range of water levels. Additionally, it is a hardy species that is able to withstand harsh conditions such as extreme temperatures and drought. This makes it an ideal choice for restoring wetlands in areas that are prone to environmental stress.

In terms of conservation, Alisma gramineum is considered a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, as with many wetland species, it is vulnerable to habitat loss and degradation, particularly due to human activities such as development, agriculture, and the construction of dams and levees. This highlights the importance of protecting and restoring wetland areas to ensure the survival of this and other important plant species.

There are also various management practices that can be implemented to ensure the survival and success of Alisma gramineum. For example, planting this species in areas that receive adequate sunlight, as well as maintaining appropriate water levels, can improve its growth and overall health. Additionally, controlling invasive species that compete with Alisma gramineum for resources can help to maintain a healthy wetland ecosystem.

Alisma gramineum is an important and valuable species that offers a range of benefits to both wildlife and humans. Whether you are interested in its medicinal properties, its ability to improve water quality, or simply its unique appearance, this plant is definitely worth exploring. By protecting and restoring wetlands, we can ensure the survival of Alisma gramineum and other important species for generations to come.

Another aspect to consider when planting Alisma gramineum is its relationship with other plants in the wetland ecosystem. As an aquatic plant, it is in a unique position to interact with both the water and the surrounding terrestrial landscape.

One of the key relationships that Alisma gramineum has is with other aquatic plants. By growing in dense clusters, it can provide cover and habitat for aquatic animals such as fish, amphibians, and invertebrates. Additionally, by absorbing excess nutrients and pollutants from the water, it can help to create a healthier aquatic environment for other plant and animal species.

Another important relationship is with wetland birds. As previously mentioned, the seeds of Alisma gramineum are an important food source for waterfowl, such as ducks and geese. This highlights the importance of planting this species in areas that are accessible to these birds, such as near waterfowl migration routes or near wetlands that are already being used by waterfowl.

Finally, Alisma gramineum also has relationships with terrestrial animals and plants. For example, its flowers can attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, which can help to increase the overall biodiversity of the wetland ecosystem. Additionally, its leaves and roots can provide food and habitat for terrestrial animals such as insects and small mammals.

In conclusion, Alisma gramineum is a plant species that has a complex network of relationships with other plants and animals in the wetland ecosystem. By planting and protecting this species, we can not only improve water quality and provide habitat for aquatic animals, but also support a wider range of biodiversity in the wetland environment. Whether you are a conservationist, naturalist, or simply interested in the beauty of nature, Alisma gramineum is an important species to know about.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map