Common water-plantain (Alisma plantago-aquatica)

French: Alisma Plantain d'Eau
Spanish: Llantén de Agua
GenusAlisma (1)
SizeHeight: 20-100 cm (2)
Leaf blade length: 8-20 cm (2)

Common water-plantain is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

Common water-plantain is a stout aquatic herb with oval-shaped leaves, which may be rounded or heart-shaped at the base (4). The pale lilac flowers are borne on a greatly branching inflorescence, and open between 1pm and 7pm each day (2). The curvature of the ribs on the leaves of water plantain was one of the inspirational natural features used by John Ruskin in the development of his theories on gothic architecture; he claimed that they were models of 'divine proportion' (5).

Widespread throughout much of Britain, but rarer in the north of Scotland, Shetland, the Outer Hebrides and Orkney. Elsewhere, it is found in temperate Europe (2), and has become widely naturalised outside of its natural range (3).

This species is usually found growing at the edge of still or slow-flowing water, as well as in swamps and marshes (3).

Common water-plantain flowers from June to August (4). It fruits prolifically, and readily colonises recently cleared ditches and flooded mineral workings (3).

This species is not threatened.

Conservation action is not needed.

For more information on British plants and their conservation see Plantlife- the wild plant conservation charity:
Visit the website of the Botanical Society of the British Isles at:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2011)
  2. Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G. & Moore, D.M. (1987) Flora of the British Isles. 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  3. Preston, C.D., Pearman, D.A. & Dines, T.D. (2002) The New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  4. Press, B. & Gibbons, B (1993) Photographic field guide to wild flowers of Britain and Europe. New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd, London.
  5. Mabey, R. (1996) Flora Britannica. Sinclair-Stevenson, London.