by Stephen Mifsud
   15 Jul 2024      ()
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Alisma plantago-aquatica   (Water Plantain)

Alisma plantago-aquatica  (ALISMATACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

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Profile Date Dec-2007 (taxon update: none)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Alisma plantago-aquatica - datasheet created on Dec-2007. Retrieved from on 15-Jul-2024

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Alisma plantago-aquaticaL.
Published in Sp. Pl. 342 (1753)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Alisma major Gray
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Alismataceae Vent. (The Water-plantain Family)
3 species from the Alismataceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Water Plantain, Greater Water Plantain, Mad-dog weed

Maltese name(s) :

Biżbula tal-Ilma

Status for Malta :

Indigenous. Present on the Maltese islands before man

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent     Scarce     Rare    Very rare    Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: HYDROPHYTE ( living only or mostly in water )
Germination [info]: Monocotyledon

Legal Protection :

Not legally protected till the last update of this website (2/Mar/2022)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :

March – May

Colour of Flowers:

Pink or Violet


Mildy toxic, can cause adverse conditions if consumed in large quantities

Name Derivation :

Alisma: "Classical Greek name for a water plant (the water plantain) used by Dioscorides (40 - 90 AD), and adopted by Carolus Linnaeus. ( )

Planting in rural areas :

Can be planted in rural areas according to ERA Guidelines

Remarks :

Population of this species is decreasing from the Maltese Islands.

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Flooded wetlands, mostly in shallow lakes, river banks and valleys.
Preferred habitat in Malta: Wetland areas and valleys with slow flowing nitrogen-rich water
Botanical Description: Leaves up to 30 x 12 cm but usually smaller, usually aerial, ovate or elliptic-ovate to lanceolate, mostly subcordate or truncate at the base but sometimes cuneate, more or less rounded but ultimately acuminate at the apex. Petals 3.5-6.5 mm, white or purplish-white. Anthers elliptical. Styles equalling or longer than the ovaries, filiform, more or less erect, stigmatose in the upper 1/8-1/5 of their length. Fruitlets 2-3 mm; lateral pericarp thickish, opaque.
Chromosome number: 2n=14
Distributional range: Most of Europe

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
All Europe except the Azores, the Balaeric Islands, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Svalbard archipelago
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
Ab(A) AE(G) Ag Al Au(A L) Be(B L) BH Bl(M) Br Bu By Cg Co Cr Cs Ct Da Eg Es Fe Ga(C F) Ge Gr Hb(E N) He Ho Hs Hu IJ It La Li LS Lt Lu Ma Mo No Po Rf(C E K N NW S) Rm Sa Si(M S) Sk Sl Sr Su Tn Tu(A E) Uk(K U)

Links & Further literature (0 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (11 images)
   Alisma plantago-aquatica   -   Image Code: ALSPQ-0.
   Alisma plantago-aquatica   -   Image Code: ALSPQ-1.
   Alisma plantago-aquatica   -   Image Code: ALSPQ-2.
   Alisma plantago-aquatica   -   Image Code: ALSPQ-3.
   Alisma plantago-aquatica   -   Image Code: ALSPQ-4.
   Alisma plantago-aquatica   -   Image Code: ALSPQ-5.
   Alisma plantago-aquatica   -   Image Code: ALSPQ-6.
   Alisma plantago-aquatica   -   Image Code: ALSPQ-7.
   Alisma plantago-aquatica   -   Image Code: ALSPQ-8.
   Alisma plantago-aquatica   -   Image Code: ALSPQ-9.
   Alisma plantago-aquatica   -   Image Code: ALSPQ-10.

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Section B:   Where have you seen this plant on the Maltese Islands?
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Try to be as concise as possible. Examples: Dingli Cliffs (near chapel), Wied Incita (Zebbug side), Triq il-Kbira (Qormi), Barriera ta' Ghajn Abdul (Xlendi), Fields East of Salib tal-gholja (Siggiewi). GPS co-ordinates are also welcomed!
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