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  Pistia stratiotes
  Family Name : Araceae

  Common Names : Water Lettuce, Kiamfang, Water-Bonnet, Nile Cabbage, Shell-Flower

  Chinese Name : 水浮莲, 大萍

Water Lettuce,Kiamfang,Water-Bonnet,Nile Cabbage,Shell-Flower
  • Record Info
    • Featured in '1001 Garden Plants in Singapore' Book (2ed) :
  • Life Stage & Characteristics
    • Plant Division :
      Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Monocotyledon)
      Plant Growth Form :
      Aquatic & Hydrophyte (Floating)
      Mode of Nutrition :
      Maximum Height :
      0.2 m
      Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width :
      0.3 m
  • Biogeography
    • Native Distribution :
      Native Habitat :
      Terrestrial (Riverine)
      Preferred Climate Zone :
  • Description & Ethnobotany
    • Plant Morphology :
      [Others]: Growth Form: Evergreen herbaceous rosettes that are usually free-floating. Production of new plants by stolons results in large colonies. Habitat: Occurs on the surface of ponds and lakes. Sometimes, it becomes rooted in bogs. This species may become invasive, possibly clogging canals and dominating wetland environments. Foliage: Fleshy, obovate leaves (25 cm long, 10 cm wide) are arranged in rosettes that resemble flattened, loose heads of lettuce. They are covered in soft hairs that trap air bubbles, causing the plant to float. The hairs on the leaf underside are thicker and longer, giving a whitish green appearance. Leaves are ribbed due to parallel venation. Leaf margin is entire or undulate. Leaf apex is truncate and slightly curled backwards. The leaves form a cuplike shape that folds inward after dark. Flowers: The inflorescence occurs at the center of the plant. The spathe is short and hairy (2 - 4 cm tall). The spadix contains 3 - 8 male flowers and 1 female flower. Folds in the spathe separate the male flowers from the female flower. Flowers may be self-pollinated or insect-pollinated. Fruits: Fruits are berries that contain many seeds and retain remnants of the stigma. Seeds are dispersed by water. Landscaping: This species is often used in water gardens. Plants will move across the surface of the pond according to wind direction. The presence of floating plants, like Pistia stratiotes, in water gardens helps to control excessive growth of green algae and blanketweed by competing for light and nutrients. Goldfish and koi feed on the leaves and roots of Pistia stratiotes, as well as hide among the roots. The short stature of this foliage plant species will contrast well with larger, flowering species, such as spoon-flower (Xanthosoma nigrum) and taro (Colocasia antiquorum), according to Paul and Rees. Consider decorating your patio or balcony by filling a large, shallow container with water and allowing them to float on the surface. Cultivation: This species is easy-to-grow. Plants are simply placed on the surface of water. This species can be aggressive, so its growth must be carefully contained through consistent thinning of excess plants. Prevent the leaves from getting wet to avoid sun scorch. In hot climates, plants will benefit from partial shade. Yellowing plants can be placed in a separate container with fertilizer until they recover. After moving plants from a greenhouse to the outdoors, allow them to acclimate by protecting them from full sun. Propagation: Propagate by division or separating plantlets produced on stolons that grow near the base of the parent plant. Etymology: The genus "Pistia" is derived from the Greek word "pistos" which means watery. The specific epithet "stratiotes" is derived from a Greek word that means soldier, a possible reference to the genus Stratiotes which contains an aquatic plant species with leaves shaped like swords.
      Ethnobotanical Uses :
      [Others]: In India, this plant is used as an antiseptic and a treatment for asthma and dysentery. In Bengal, the leaves are fed to livestock, such as pigs and ducks. It is sometimes used as an insecticide in India. This species is used to purify water in parts of Asia, because heavy metals accumulate in its foliage. It has potential as a fuel source, because decomposing foliage releases methane gas.
  • Landscaping Features
    • Desirable Plant Features :
      Ornamental Foliage
      Plant & Rootzone Preference/Tolerance :
      Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site), Shallow Media (8 -10cm), Easy to Grow
      Landscape Uses :
      Riverine, Aquarium / Aquascape, Phytoremediation (Ground / Water Contaminant(s): heavy metals)
      Thematic Landscaping :
      Water Garden
      Usage Hazards / Cons :
      Invasive / Potentially Invasive
  • Fauna, Pollination & Dispersal
    • Pollination Method(s) :
      Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Ant, Beetle, Fly, Thrip, Wasp)), Abiotic (Self-Pollinated)
      Seed / Spore Dispersal :
      Abiotic (Water)
  • Plant Care & Propagation
    • Light Preference :
      Full Sun, Semi-Shade
      Water Preference :
      Lots of Water
      Plant Growth Rate :
      Maintenance Requirements :
      Potential Problems :
      It can clog canals and become invasive in wetland environments.
      Propagation Method :
      Stolon / Runner, Division
  • Foliar
    • Foliage Retention :
      Mature Foliage Colour(s) :
      Mature Foliage Texture(s) :
      Velvety / Furry / Tomentose
      Foliar Type :
      Simple / Unifoliate
      Foliar Arrangement Along Stem :
      Rosulate / Rosette
      Foliar Shape(s) :
      Non-Palm Foliage (Obovate)
      Foliar Venation :
      Foliar Margin :
      Entire - Wavy / Undulate
      Foliar Apex / Tip :
      Foliar Base :
      Truncate / Square
      Typical Foliar Area :
      Mesophyll ( 45cm2 - 182.25 cm2 )
  • Non-Foliar & Storage
    • Root Type :
      Underground (Fibrous Root)
  • Floral (Angiosperm)
    • Flower Colour(s) :
      Flower Symmetry :
  • Fruit, Seed & Spore
    • Mature Fruit Colour(s) [Angiosperms & Gymnosperms] :
      Fruit Classification :
      Simple Fruit
      Fruit Type :
      Fleshy Fruit (Non-Accessory Fruit: Berry)
The information given on this website has been compiled from reference works on medicinal plants and/or pron only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Reliance on this information is strictly at your own risk. You should always consult your physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.

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