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Limnocharis flava


Limnocharis flava (L.) Buchenau

Family Name: Limnocharitaceae
Synonyms: Limnocharis emarginata
Common Name: Sawah Lettuce, Velvetleaf, Yellow Burrhead, Hermit’s WaterLily, 黄花蔺


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Aquatic & Hydrophyte (Emergent, Waterside / Marginal), Herbaceous Plant
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic


Native Distribution Tropical and subtropical America

Description and Ethnobotany

Others - Plant Morphology Limnocharis flava was introduced to Southeast Asia more than a century ago and has become naturalised in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka. It has also become a vegetable commonly available in the markets and supermarkets in Java.Growth Form: An erect, perennial herbaceous plant that grows in both aquatic and swampy terrestrial environments, that is laticiferous (= containing latex). Reproductive growth is achieved through tillering, which is a type of vegetative reproduction accomplished through the production of subterranean shoots that are more or less erect (= tillers).Habitat: L. flava is found naturally in marshy shallow locations, such as rice fields, fish ponds and drains, up to 1300 m altitude.Foliage: Leaves are yellow-green, smooth and hairless and set in a basal rosette. Petioles are 5-75 cm long, thick and triangular in cross-section with many air chambers. Leaf blades are orbicular (= approximately circular in outline), broadly elliptic or ovate in shape, with 9-13 main nerves and numerous secondary nerves running in parallel.Flowers: Yellow flowers are borne on inflorescences, known as umbels (= flower stalks arise from a common point on the inflorescence stalk), 3-15 flowers on each. The inflorescence stalk (= peduncle) grows up to 90 cm in length, standing erect when flowering and curving downwards when fruiting. The flowers open in the morning only for a few hours.Fruits: Fruit compound, globose or broadly ellipsoid in shape and contains numerous seeds that are horseshoe-shaped and dark brown in colour.Cultivation: can be cultivated all year round, producing flowers throughout the year, requiring a fertile soil that should be enriched with organic fertiliser 1-2 weeks before planting. The recommended planting distance is about 30 cm between plants. Propagation may be carried out by layers or seeds. Etymology: The genus name, Limnocharis, is Greek for “marsh beauty”, in reference to the natural habitat of the plant, while the specific epithet, flava, means “bright almost pure yellow, which is the colour of the flowers of the plant.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts : Edible Leaves, Edible Flowers
Food (Fruit & Vegetable)
Others: Food: In Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, the young leaves of L. flava, with petioles attached, are eaten as a vegetable, usually heated over fire or cooked a short time before consumption. The young unopened inflorescences are eaten, likewise. The young leaves are preferred to the older leaves as the latter has a bitter taste. Other Uses: Whole plants are used as pig or fish fodder and also ploughed into rice fields as green manure. The plant is also often used as an ornamental plant in ponds.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers
Landscape Uses Riverine, Aquarium / Aquascape
Thematic Landscaping Water Garden

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic (Water)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade, Full Sun
Water Preference Lots of Water
Rootzone Tolerance Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site), Fertile Loamy Soils
Propagation Method Seed
Planting Distance 30 m


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green, Yellow / Golden
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Rosulate / Rosette, Basal
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate, Elliptical, Orbicular / Round)
Foliar Margin Entire

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Herbaceous

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Yellow / Golden
Inflorescence Type Umbel
Flowering Period Free-Flowering
Flowering Opening Time Daytime
Flower Lifespan on Plant [Remarks] (Flowers close after a few hours upon opening in the morning.)
Flower Lifespan on Plant - Remarks Flowers close after a few hours upon opening in the morning.
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Green, Yellow / Golden

Image Repository



Master ID 902
Species ID 2196
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 24 February 2022.