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Creeping Marshwort

Apium repens

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.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Apiaceae (Carrot)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
20 centimetres tall
Ditches, fields, floodplains, gardens, grassland, meadows, ponds, water, wetland.

White, 5 petals
Long-stalked white umbels. Numerous lower bracts are present.
Ridged fruits, similar to those of Fool's Watercress (Apium nodiflorum) but broader.
A prostrate creeping perennial plant with with deeply toothed leaves. It is deeper toothed than the leaves of Fool's Watercress.
Other Names:
Creeping Water-celery.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Apium repens, also known as creeping water-celery, is a perennial herbaceous plant that is native to wetlands and shallow water of Europe, Asia and North America. It typically grows to be a low-growing plant, reaching heights of up to 8 inches. The plant has green, glossy leaves that resemble celery leaves and small, white or yellow flowers that bloom in summer. This plant is often used as an ornamental plant in water gardens, and also has medicinal properties. It's root can be used to make a tea that is used to relieve sore throat and cough. However, it's considered as a invasive species in some parts of the world and can outcompete native species for resources. It is a creeping plant and can spread easily, so it's important to control its growth.


Creeping Marshwort, also known by its scientific name Apium repens, is a herbaceous perennial plant that belongs to the Apiaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia and has been introduced to North America, where it is considered an invasive species. Creeping Marshwort is often found growing in wetland areas, such as marshes, swamps, and along the banks of streams and rivers.

The plant has a shallow root system and sends out runners that can quickly cover large areas of ground. The leaves are green and deeply divided, with toothed leaflets. The plant produces small, white flowers in umbels, which are similar in appearance to those of the carrot family. The flowers give way to small, oblong-shaped fruits that contain tiny seeds.

Creeping Marshwort is often considered a weed due to its invasive nature, but it also has some culinary and medicinal uses. The young leaves and stems can be eaten raw or cooked and have a slightly bitter taste. They are often used as a garnish or in salads, soups, and stews. The plant is also used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive disorders, arthritis, and respiratory problems.

Despite its culinary and medicinal uses, Creeping Marshwort can be harmful to the environment if it is not controlled. It can outcompete native plants for resources, leading to a loss of biodiversity. It can also alter the hydrology of wetland areas, which can have negative impacts on water quality and habitat for wildlife.

To control Creeping Marshwort, it is important to prevent its spread by avoiding the introduction of the plant to new areas. If the plant is already established, it can be managed through manual or chemical control methods. Manual control methods include pulling or cutting the plant, while chemical control methods involve the use of herbicides. However, it is important to note that the use of herbicides can have negative impacts on non-target species and the environment and should only be used as a last resort.

Creeping Marshwort is a versatile plant that has been used for a variety of purposes throughout history. In ancient times, it was used for medicinal purposes by the Greeks and Romans, who believed that it had diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties. In the Middle Ages, it was used to treat toothaches and digestive disorders. It was also used as a flavoring agent for beer and wine, and as a dye for textiles.

In addition to its culinary and medicinal uses, Creeping Marshwort also has ecological importance. It provides habitat and food for a variety of insects, including butterflies and bees, and is an important food source for waterfowl and other wetland birds. It also helps to stabilize the soil and prevent erosion, which is important in wetland areas that are susceptible to flooding.

Despite its benefits, Creeping Marshwort is considered a nuisance plant in many areas and is often targeted for control or eradication. This can be a difficult process, as the plant is resilient and can quickly re-establish itself if not managed properly. It is important to use a combination of manual and chemical control methods, as well as ongoing monitoring and management, to effectively control Creeping Marshwort and prevent its spread.

One interesting aspect of Creeping Marshwort is its relationship with insects. The plant produces a variety of chemical compounds that attract pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, as well as insects that feed on the plant, such as aphids and caterpillars. These interactions are important for the plant's reproduction and growth, as well as for maintaining a healthy ecosystem in wetland areas.

Another interesting aspect of Creeping Marshwort is its cultural significance. In some areas of Europe, the plant is considered a symbol of love and is used in traditional wedding ceremonies. It is also associated with healing and is used in some folk remedies for various ailments. In addition, the plant has been used in art and literature, appearing in works by writers such as William Shakespeare and J.R.R. Tolkien.

As an invasive species, Creeping Marshwort can have significant economic impacts as well. It can reduce the productivity of agricultural land and impact water quality and availability, which can affect industries such as fishing and tourism. In addition, the costs of controlling and managing invasive species can be high, requiring ongoing resources and effort to prevent their spread and mitigate their effects.

Creeping Marshwort is a plant with many interesting and complex characteristics. While it has both positive and negative impacts, it is important to understand and appreciate its role in wetland ecosystems, as well as its cultural and historical significance. Through careful management and responsible stewardship, it is possible to maintain a balance between the benefits and challenges posed by this unique and resilient plant.

One of the challenges with controlling Creeping Marshwort is its ability to spread through vegetative reproduction. The plant can quickly form dense mats of foliage and runners, which can make it difficult to manage using traditional control methods. In addition, the plant is able to regenerate from small fragments, making it important to ensure that all plant material is properly disposed of to prevent further spread.

One promising approach to controlling Creeping Marshwort is through the use of biological control. This involves introducing natural enemies of the plant, such as insects or pathogens, that can help to reduce its population without causing harm to other species or the environment. Research is currently being conducted to identify potential biological control agents for Creeping Marshwort, with promising candidates including a rust fungus and a stem-boring beetle.

In addition to its potential as a biological control target, Creeping Marshwort also has potential as a source of new drugs and pharmaceuticals. Studies have shown that the plant contains a variety of bioactive compounds, including flavonoids, terpenoids, and alkaloids, which have demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties. While further research is needed to fully explore the potential of these compounds, they could provide valuable new treatments for a variety of human diseases.

Overall, Creeping Marshwort is a complex and multifaceted plant that offers both challenges and opportunities. While it can be harmful to the environment and difficult to manage, it also has valuable culinary, medicinal, and ecological uses, and has potential as a source of new drugs and pharmaceuticals. By taking a holistic and sustainable approach to its management, it is possible to balance the benefits and challenges of this unique and resilient plant.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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