Alisma triviale (Northern Water Plantain)

Plant Info
Also known as: Large-flowered Water Plantain
Family:Alismataceae (Water Plantain)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; bogs, swamps, shallow mucky water, along shores
Bloom season:June - September
Plant height:6 to 40 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 3-petals Cluster type: panicle

[photo of flowers] Flowers are whorled in open clusters on many branches coming off the main stem. Individual flowers are about ¼ inch across, 3 white petals with a spot of yellow at the base, 3 sepals that are much shorter than the petals, and 6 stamens surrounding the yellowish to green center.

Leaves: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are in a basal rosette, generally oval with a pointed tip, tapering some, rounded or flattened at the base. Leaves are up to 7 inches long and 3 inches wide, hairless, toothless, with mostly parallel veins and a long smooth leaf stalk.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a ring of seeds less than ¼ inch in diameter that turns from green to brown as it ripens.


There are 3 species of Water-plantain in Minnesota, Alisma triviale being the most common. A. subcordatum has smaller flowers with sepals as long as or longer than the petals, but is otherwise nearly identical. A. gramineum has very narrow leaves and is the least common in the state. Water-plantain flowers are also similar to Arrowhead, but Arrowhead flowers are much larger—½ to 1 inch across.

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More photos

Photos taken at Vadnais/Snail Lake Regional Park, Shoreview, MN, June-July 2008 and July-August 2009. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka county.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Joel - Olmsted county
on: 2014-01-06 11:52:05

In doing plant surveys at Indian Heights park in Rochester, MN, we documented Northern Water Plaintain. Interestingly, it was in a wet area of a former quarry on top of the hill!

Posted by: Kimberly - Pipestone County
on: 2016-07-27 16:19:25

A half dozen plants found on private property along the Chanarambie Creek, just northwest of Edgerton.

Posted by: Susan - Credit River Township
on: 2017-08-23 12:56:41

I have several of these plants on my property near the Credit River in Savage, MN. They are blooming now.

Posted by: Maureen Mulligan - Rock County
on: 2019-08-10 20:48:56

I found some amongst quartzite outcrops.

Posted by: Patsy Berglund - Chisago Co.
on: 2020-06-30 06:34:35

I found one plant near my garden swamp. It is just starting to bloom so I checked with the UofM Master Gardeners for identification.

Posted by: Brett W - Hennepin County
on: 2020-08-10 18:27:29

A few plants blooming along the Mississippi River floodplain in Cloquet Island Overlook Park near Dayton.

Posted by: Sherman - Duluth, on N. Basswood Ave, ~680 ft north of Mulberry St.
on: 2021-02-22 11:48:17

In the Summer of 2020, while walking my dog on N. Basswood Ave, I'd been noticing the large number of tadpoles swimming in a VERY small pond on the West side of the road at a culvert. Eventually I noticed at the edges of the pond, a number of broad leaved plants that had inflorescences of tiny white flowers on them. I looked at a few plant field guides and identified them as 'Alisma' Water Plantains.

Posted by: Sherman in Duluth
on: 2021-02-22 12:50:41

I should probably have used the word "panicle", not "inflorescence". This picture looks exactly like the ones I saw:

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-02-22 15:35:45

Sherman, "inflorescence" is a correct term; panicle, spike, flat-top, etc. are different forms of an inflorescence.

Posted by: Brett W - NE Anoka County
on: 2021-07-10 22:41:57

Growing in the snowmobile path at Linwood Lake Public Boat Access. Was very wet there this March but totally dry now. It is a low area so usually not dry.

Posted by: Elaine - Cook County
on: 2022-08-08 11:02:31

found in a disturbed watery area on the ski hill.

Posted by: Janice Baller - Oakdale
on: 2023-07-31 11:05:47

Found 1 plant growing in my garden. Didn't know what it was so left it to grow. First stalk has finished blooming, a second stalk is blooming now. Is not in a wetland, but is in mostly shade.

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