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Water Dropwort (Oenanthe javanica)

O. stolonifera.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Water Dropwort
Oenanthe javanica

Spreading rapidly by means of suckers, it makes a good ground cover plant for wet situations. The variegated cultivar ‘Flamingo’ has been especially recommended[200].

  • Medicinal Use

    The whole plant is depurative, febrifuge and styptic[147, 178]. A decoction is used in the treatment of epidemic influenza, fever and discomfort, jaundice, haematuria and metrorrhagia[147].

    The seed contains 3.5% essential oil. This is effective at large dilutions against pathogenic fungi[218].

  • Edible Use

    Young leaves and stems – raw or cooked[2, 46, 61, 105]. The leaves are also used as a seasoning in soups etc[179, 183]. The flavour is reminiscent of carrots or parsley[206]. The young shoots that sprout from the root in winter are best[116, 206]. A major vegetable in many parts of the Orient, the leaves are a rich source of vitamins and minerals (Analysis available)[218].

    Root – cooked. Highly esteemed in Japan[116], the roots can grow up to 30cm long in water[183]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

    Seed is said to be edible[183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    Although no specific mention of toxicity has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus that contains a number of very poisonous plants and so some caution is advised[K]. It is said to contain the alleged 'psychotroph' myristicine[218].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is erratic[206]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring[206]. Large divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer. Layering[200]. Stem tip cuttings[200]. Any part of the stem roots easily[206].
Requires a wet fertile soil or shallow water and a sunny position[200]. This plant is quite possibly not hardy in Britain, [200] gives a hardiness zone of 10, which means that it is not frost tolerant. However [58] says that it grows in all areas of lowland Japan and this should include areas that do experience frosts and snow. Another report says that many forms of this species are not frost-hardy, though some forms have hardy roots[206]. There is also a lot of confusion over the correct name for this species. Some reports give O. stolonifera. DC. or O. stolonifera. Wall as the correct name whilst other reports say that these names are synonyms of O. javanica. [200] says that O. stolonifera japonica. (Miq.)Maxim. is a synonym of O. javanica. It is quite possible that both O. javanica and O. stolonifera are valid names and the uses listed here belong partly to each species. More research is required. This species is occasionally cultivated for its edible root[183] or for its edible leaves according to another report[179], there are some named varieties[183]. There are two main forms of this species, a red form has edible shoots whilst a white form is grown for its medicinal root[178]. In Japan this plant and six other herbs are customarily boiled in rice gruel on January 7th[183]. The cultivar ‘Su Zhou’ is medium early and has few fibres plus an excellent taste[183].
E. Asia – Japan, Korea to Australia.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.