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Family Araceae
Pistia stratiotes Linn.
Tian fu ping

Scientific names Common names
Angiospermum obcordatum (Schleid.) Klotzsch Kiapo (Tag., Bis.) 
Limnonesis commutata (Schleid.) Klotzsch Loloan (Ilk.) 
Limnonesis friedrichsthaliana Klotzsch Quiapo (Tag.)
Pistia aegyptiaca Schleid. Shellflower  (Engl.)
Pistia commutata Schleid. Tropical duckweed (Engl.)
Pistia crispata Blume Water lettuce (Engl.)
Pistia cumingii Klotzsch Water cabbage (Eng.) 
Pistia minor Blume  
Pistia natalensis Klotzsch  
Pistia obcordatum Schleid.  
Pistia stratiotes Linn.  
Pistia turpinii K. Koch  
Pistia weigeltiana C. Presl  
Zala asiatica Lour.  
Pistia stratiotes L. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
BENGALI: Takapana, Topa pana.
CHINESE: Shuo he lian, Shuo fu ping, Tian fu ping, Da piao.
FRENCH: Laitue d'eau, Pistie.
GUJARATI: Jalashamkhala.
HINDI: Jalkimbhi.
ORIYA: Borajhanji.
SPANISH: Lechuguilla de agua, Lechuguita de agua, Repollo de agua.
TAMIL: Akasatamari.

Historical note
The Quiapo district of Manila, the home of the Black Nazarene, derived its name from this water lily plant Kiapo, which was in profusion in the canals and rivers of the area, early in the Spanish colonized time when it thrived as a fishing village. (See: Quiapo Market)

Kiapo is an aquatic plant, floating on lakes, streams, stagnant water and in lime-rich water, gregarious and stemless. Leaves are few or many, fanlike, 2.5 to 15 cm long, with a rounded or retuse apex, thickened base, with small, soft hairs on both surfaces. Spathes are few, white, oblique, about 12 mm long, with short peduncles. Spadix is adnate to the back of the tube of the spathe, but free above. Fruit is membraneous and few-seeded. Seeds are oblong or obovoid, albuminous, with rugose testa.

- Common in lakes, lazy streams and stagnant waters, even in rice paddies at low altitudes.
- Frequent decorative plant in residential ponds, aquariums and water fountains.
- Pantropic.

- Plant yields steroid, triterpenoid, phenol, flavonoid, tannin, alkaloid, glycoside, and saponin.
- Study on leaves yielded alkanes, flavonoids and sterols.
- Study isolated for the first time: stigmasta-4,22-dien-3-one, stigmasterol, stigmasteryl stearate and palmitic acid.

- Yields large amounts of two di-C-glycosylflavones of vicenin and lucenin; lesser amounts of anthocyanin cyanidin-3-glucoside and a luteolin-7-glycoside, and traces of mono-C-glycosylflavones, vitexin, and orientin.
- Yields 1% ash, chiefly potassium chloride and sulfate.
- Leaves contain stinging crystals of calcium oxalate.
- High potash content.
- Contains salts of potassium, sodium, magnesium, and lime: also, iron, aluminum, and silicic acid.
- Leaves are rich in vitamin A, C and also vitamin B.

- Root is emollient, laxative and diuretic.
- Leaves are demulcent and refrigerant.
- Plant considered antiseptic, antitubercular, antidysenteric.
- Studies have shown antidermatophytic, hypotensive, cytotoxic, larvicidal, bronchodilating, antidiabetic, antioxidant, phytoremediating, antinociceptive, CNS depressant, anthelmintic, antimicrobial, radioprotective, diuretic properties.

Parts utilized
Whole plant.

- Used as a famine food in India in 1877-1878.
- In China, young leaves are eaten cooked.
- Leaves added to soup; prior parboiling advised to removed acridity from calcium oxalate crystals. (28)


- Infusion of leaves used for dropsy, bladder complaints, kidney afflictions, diabetes, hematuria, dysentery, and anemia.
- Used for dysuria and as an expectorant.
- Poultice of pounded leaves used in hemorrhoids, tumors and boils.
- The juice of leaves, mixed with coconut oil, is used for a variety of chronic skin conditions.
- Leaves mixed with rice and coconut milk, given for dysentery; with rose water and sugar, used for coughs and asthma.
- Ash of the plant applied to ringworm
- Powdered dry leaves mixed with a little honey used for syphilis, 3 to 4 teaspoons a day.
- Leaves used for treatment of ringworm of scalp, syphylitic eruptions, skin infections, boils and wounds.
- Oil extract used for worm infestations, tuberculosis, asthma, dysentery, piles, ulcers, burns.
- Used for menorrhagia.
- Ash of leaves applied to ringworm of the scalp.
- In Gambia, plant is used as an anodyne eyewash.
- In China, used in various prescriptions for boils, syphilitic eruptions and skin complaints.
- In the Peruvian Amazon, used for arthritis.
- In Indian traditional medicine, leaves are used for the treatment of ringworm infection of the scalp, syphilitic eruptions, skin infections, dysuria, boils and wounds. Oil extract used for worm infestations, TB, asthma, dysentery, hemorrhoids, ulcers, syphilitic infections and burns.
- Owing to high potash content, used as diuretic; also used for gonorrhea.
- Fodder: Sometimes used for feeding hogs and ducks.
- Soap: Used for making soap in West Tropical Africa.

- Stain removal: Plant used with soap to removed stains out of clothing. (29)
- Insecticidal: Leaves considered insecticidal. (29)

Antidermatophytic: Study evaluated the in citro antidermatophytic activity of a methanol leaf extract of Pistia stratiotes against various dermatophytes. Results showed antifungal properties, with the methanol extract most active against dermatophytes T. rubrum, T. mentagrophytes, and E. floccosum. Tricophyton and Epidermophyton sp. were the most resistant. (1)
Hypotensive / Calcium Channel Blocking Activity / Bronchodilating: Study of methanol extract of whole plant revealed calcium channel blocking activity using isolated segments of rabbit jejunum and confirmed via inhibition by pretreatment with verapamil. The extract also exhibited dose-related bronchodilating activity and dose-related neuromuscular blocking action. (2)
Cytotoxicity / Larvicidal: Study showed the chloroform extract of P. stratiotes selectively exerted cytotoxic effect on Culex mosquito larvae and recommends that PS be tested for adulticidal and/or mosquitocidal activity as well as studies for toxicity in higher animals and man. (4)
Anthelmintic / Constituents: Study yielded alkaloids, tannins, flavonoids, saponins, fixed oils, fats and glycosides. Results showed both paralysis and death of adult Indian earthworm, Pheretima posthuma, with effects similar to that observed with standard drugs, piperazine citrate and albendazole. (5)
Antidermatophytic Activity: Results indicate P. stratiotes methanolic extract was most active against the dermatophytes T. rubrum, T. mentagrophytes and E. floccosum, with lesser activity against M. gypseum and M. manum.
Antioxidant: Results suggest Pistia stratiotes leaves extract functions as an antioxidant to scavenge free radicals and reduces free radical-induced cell injury. (6)
Chemical Constituents: Study isolated four compounds: stigmasta-4,22-dien-3-one, stigmasterol, stigmasteryl stearate and palmitic acid.
Anti-Diabetic / Diuretic Activity: Study of leaf extracts of Pistia stratiotes produced significant antihyperglycemic action, as well as diuretic action. The glucose lowering effect may be due to blocking of glucose absorption. (8)
Phytoremediation / Chromium / Cobalt: Study showed aquatic macrophytes, Pistia stratiotes, may be used for phytoremediation of water bodies polluted with heavy metals, chromium and cobalt, in a sustainable way. (11)
Radioprotective / Antigenotoxicity: Study evaluated the radioprotective potential and efficacy of Pistia stratiotes against damage induced by 60Co gamma radiation in mice. A methanol leaf extract exhibited significant reduction in micronucleus induction. Bioefficacy was attributed to the presence of large amount of two di-Cglycosylflavones of the vicenin and lucenin and lesser amounts of the anthocyanin cyaniding-3-glucoside and a luteolin-7-glycoside, and traces of the mono- C-glycosyl flavones, vitexin and orientin. (12)
Phytoremediation / Cadmium: Study investigated phytoremediation ability of water lettuce, Pistia stratiotes. Results showed the plant was a Cd hyperaccumulator with a suitability of water lettuce for removing Cd from surface waters. (14)
Phytochelatin / Lead: Phytochelatin is a small peptide contained in water lettuce. In the study, lead ion (Pb2) found in the river formed a complex compound with the ligand (phytochelatin). The phytochelatin contained in water lettuce significantly contributed to the reduction of lead in water. Phytochelatin can absorb lead content up to 49.75% of sample. (15)
Phytoremediation / Zinc: Study showed P. stratiotes as bioremediation to absorb zinc heavy metal in media solution. (18)
Phytochelatin / Heavy Metals: Study evaluated the use of Pistia stratiotes in the removal of some heavy metals from stream polluted by waste water from Kaduna Refinery and Petrochemical Company, Experiment showed P. stratiotes is a suitable candidate for effective removal of heavy metals (Hg, Cd, Mn, Ag, Pb, Zn) from waste water. (16)
Anti-Arthritic / Antipyretic / Leaves: Study evaluated aqueous and ethanol leaf extract of P. stratiotes in a rodent model of arthritis and fever. Results showed significant reduction in paw edema thickness of formalin-induced arthritic animals comparable to methotrexate, diclofenac and dexamethasone. There was also significant reduction of lipopolysaccharide-induced fever in rats similar to acetaminophen. (17)
Ocular Anti-Inflammatory Effect / Leaves: Study evaluated the anti-inflammatory effect of aqueous and ethanolic leaf extracts of PS in endotoxin-induced uveitis in Sprague-Dawley rats. Results showed a curative anti-inflammatory ocular effect with significant reductions in iris vessel vasodilatation, exudation, neutrophil inflammatory cells and total proteins in the anterior chamber, with histopathologial evidence of resolution of the uveitis. Effects were comparable to prednisolone, the reference drug. (19)
Antinociceptive/ Cytotoxicity / Antimicrobial / CNS Depressant / Aerial Parts: Study of ethanol extract of aerial parts showed significant zone of inhibition against gram positive B. cereus, B. subtilis, S. aureus, gram negative E, coli, S. typhi, P. mirabilis and yeast C. albicans and Rhodotorula rubra. In CNS depressant testing, there was significant decrease in locomotor activity in mice. There was significant antinociceptive activity in hot plate, tail immersion, and acetic-acid induced writhing in mice. In brine shrimp lethality assay, the LC50 was 1.8 µg/ml, LC90 of 2.07 µg/ml. (20)
Anti-Diarrheal / Antinociceptive / Leaves: Study evaluated the antinociceptive and antidiarrheal activity of a methanolic extract of leaves. Results showed significant writhing inhibition in acetic acid-induced writhing in mice. Extract showed antidiarrheal activity on castor oil induced diarrhea in mice, with increased mean latent period and decreased frequency of defecation. (21)
Larvicidal / Aedes aegypti: Study investigated the larvicidal effect of Pistia stratiotes against early 3rd an 4th instar larvae of Aedes aegypti in the laboratory. Results showed effective insecticidal activity. (22)
Phosphorus Accumulation: In a study to determine the P accumulation efficiencies of four different aquatic plants (E. plantaginea, C. crassipes, Pistia stratiotes, and H. verticillata), P. stratiotes showed to be the most efficient of the four wetland species. (23)
Antiallergic / Ovalbumin-Induced Allergic Conjunctivitis: Study investigated the antiallergic effect of an aqueous leaf extract in a murine model of ovalbumin-induced allergic conjunctivitis. Pretreatment significantly and dose-dependently reduced clinical symptoms, lowered serum OVA specific immunoglobulins, mast cell infiltration and conjunctival stroma degranulation. (24)
• Phytoremediation / Arsenic: Study showed water lettuce has potential for bioindication and phytoremediation of Arsenic-contaminated aquatic environments. (25)
• Cytotoxic Effect on Renal Cells and Body Weight / Leaves: Study investigated the effect of crude water extract of leaves of P. stratiotes on body weight and renal cells function in albino rats. Results sugget the aqueous extract of leaves could be associated with some level of kidney toxicity. (26)
• Hepatoprotective / Paracetamol Induced Toxicity / Leaves: Study evaluated the hepatoprotective activity of an ethanolic extract of leaves of P. stratiotes against paracetamol induced liver damage in rats. Results showed reversal of elevated enzymes and restoration of decreased total protein.. Effect was comparable with that of silymarin. Activity may be due to the presence of flavonoids. (27)
• Antiarthritic / Adjuvant Induced Arthritis / Leaves: Study evaluated the antiarthritic effect of aqueous and ethanolic leaf extracts in arthritis inducted in Sprague-Dawley rats. Results showed significant p<0.05-0.001) reduction in ipselateral paw swelling, similar to effects of methotrexate, dexamethasone, and diclofenac. The aqueous extract showed better activity than the ethanolic extract. (28)
• Wound Healing / Antioxidant: Study evaluated Pistia stratiotes for wound healing activity in Swiss albino mice by excision model. Results showed significant (p<0.001) wound healing activity as evidenced by changes in all parameters of wound contraction, epithelization period and tensile strength. The wound healing activity may be due to its antioxidant property. (30)
• Thrombolytic / Roots: Study evaluated five common Bangladesh plant solvent extracts for thrombolytic activity. Pistia stratiotes roots showed significant % clot lysis at 35.85%. (31)
• Antiurolithiatic / Leaves: Study of ethanolic extract of leaves on ethylene glycol induced urolithiasis in Wistar albino rats showed an antiurolithiatic activity as evidenced by suppression of urine urolithiatic promoters such as calcium oxalate and phosphate. (32)


© Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Updated December 2017 / August 2015

Photos ©Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: / File:Pistia stratiotes 2.jpg / Kristjan / 2005.10.15 / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Antidermatophytic activity of Pistia stratiotes / Premkumar VG, Shyamsundar D. / Indian J Pharmacol 2005;37:127-8
Pharmacologic activities of Pistia stratiotes / K. J. Achola, A. A. Indalo and R. W. Munenge / Summary Pharmaceutical Biology / 1997, Vol. 35, No. 5, Pages 329-333
Chemical constituents of Pistia stratiotes L. / Ling, Y; Wan, F et al / Department of Pharmacy, Navy General Hospital, Beijing 10003
Cytotoxicity of fractions of Pistia stratiotes l. On larvae of Culex mosquito and A. salina
/ M D Mukhtar, A Sani, A A Yakasai / Animal Research International, Vol 1, No 2 (2004)

Evaluation of Anthelmintic Activity of Pistia stratiotes Linn. / H K Sundeep Kumar et al / Journal of Basic and Clinical Pharmacy
In vitro Evaluation of Free Radical ScavengingActivity of Pistia stratiotes / Megha JHA et al / International Journal of ChemTech Research, Vol 2, No 1, pp 180-184, Jan-Mar 2010
Chemical constituents of Pistia stratiotes L. / Y Ling, F Wan, B He, Y Zhang, J Zheng / China journal of Chinese materia medica (1999), Volume: 24, Issue: 5, Pages: 289-290, 318
Diuretic activity of Pistia stratioites leaf extract in rats / Tripathi Pallavi, Arora Sandeep et al / IRJP, 2(3), Mar 2011, pp 249-251
Pistia stratiotes L. / Chinese names / Catalogue of Life, China
Pharmacognostic studies of the leaf and stolon of Pistia stratiotes Linn.
/ Omprakash K K, Rathinamala R, Rajasekaran R, Sasikala Ethirajulu / International Journal of Ayurvedic Medicine, Vol 2, No 3 (2011)
Phytoremediation of Chromium and Cobalt using Pistia stratiotes: A sustainable approach / Santosh Kumar Prajapati, Neelima Meravi, Shivangee Singh / Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2012, 2(2):136-138
Role of Pistia stratiotes on Radiation Induced Genotoxicity : Analysis of Micronucleus and Chromosome Aberrations in vivo / Megha Jha, Versha Sharma & Ganesh Narayan / International Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Technology (IJPPT), Volume-I, Issue-1.
Pistia stratiotes L. / Synonyms / The Plant List
A study on cadmium phytoremediation potential of water lettuce, Pistia stratiotes L. / Das S, Goswami S, Talukdar AD. / Bull Environ Contam Toxicol. 2014 Feb;92(2):169-74. / doi: 10.1007/s00128-013-1152-y.
The Use Of Pistia stratiotes To Remove Some Heavy Metals From Romi Stream: A Case Study Of Kaduna Refinery And Petrochemical Company Polluted Stream./ Adamu Yunusa Ugya, Tijjani Sabiu Imam and Salisu Muhammad Tahir / Journal of Environmental Science, Toxicology and Food Technology (IOSR-JESTFT), Vol 9, Issue 1 Var II , Jan 2015 / DOI: 10.9790/2402-09124851
The efficacy of aqueous and ethanolic leaf extracts of Pistia stratiotes linn in the management of arthritis and fever / S. Kyei, G. A. Koffuor and J. N. Boampong / Journal of Medical and Biomedical Sciences (2012) 1(2): 29-37
Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes, Linn) Potency as One of Eco-friendly Phytoextraction Absorbers of Zinc Heavy Metal to Solve Industrial Waste Problem in Indonesia / Pebri Nurhayati, Sapta Abimanyu, Siti Kaswati and Iqbal Raditya Fajr / IPCBEE vol.41 (2012) © (2012)
Ocular anti-inflammatory effect of aqueous and ethanolic leaf extracts of Pistia stratiotes Linn (Araceae) in endotoxin-induced uveitis / Kyei, Samuel; Koffuor, George A.; Boampong, Johnson N.; Owusu-Afriyie, Osei / Journal of Natural Pharmaceuticals, Volume 3, Issue 2, July-December, 2012 / DOI: 10.4103/2229-5119.102752
Cytotoxicity, Antimicrobial, and Neuropharmacological Evaluation of Ethanolic Extract of Pistia strtiotes L. / Khan Md. Ahad Ali et al / IRJP 2(2) 2011: 82-92
Evaluation of Antinociceptive and Antidiarrheal Properties of Pistia stratiotes Leaves / M A Rahman, E Haque, M Hasanuzzaman, S R Muhuri, and I Z Shahid / Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology, 2011 / DOI: 10.3923/jpt.2011
Larvicidal Activity of Pistia stratiotes (Water Lettuce) against Larvae of Aedes aegypti / E. E. Ito*, J. C. Nmor*, J. E. G. Ake and K. Utebor / AIR, 3(6): 589-595, 2015; Article no.AIR.2015.054
Luxury Uptake and Removal of Phosphorus from Water Column by Representative Aquatic Plants and Its Implication for Wetland Management / Shardendu Shardendu, D. Sayantan, Deepti Sharma, and Sufia Irfan / ISRN Soil Science, Volume 2012 (2012) / http://dx.doi.org/10.5402/2012/516947
Antiallergic effect of an aqueous leaf extract of Pistia stratiotes in murine model of ovalbumin-induced allergic conjunctivitis / Samuel Abokyi, George Asumeng Koffuor, Samuel Kyei, Emmanuel A Asiamah, Clement Nsobire Atobiga, Agnes Awuah / Phcog Res 2014;6:274-9 / DOI: 10.4103/0974-8490.138243
Evaluation of the potential of Pistia stratiotes L. (water lettuce) for bioindication and phytoremediation of aquatic environments contaminated with arsenic / FS Farnese, JA Oliveira, FS Lima, GA Leao, GS Gusman, LC Silva / Braz. J. Biol. vol.74 no.3 supl.1 São Carlos Aug. 2014 / http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1519-6984.01113 
Cytotoxic Effect of Crude Aqueous Extract of Pistia Stratiotes Leaves (water lettuce) on Body Weight and Renal Cells of Albino Rats / IZ Wasagu, FU Bunza, MK Dallatu, AA Ngaski, AS Mainasara, SU Dandare / Bayero Journal of Pure and Applied Sciences, Vol 7, No 1 (2014)
Effect of Pistia stratiotes Leaf Extract on Hepatic Functions against Paracetamol Induced Liver Damage in Rats / Somasundaram G, Israel Raja Johnley I, Sengottuvelu S, Jaikumar S / Sch. Acad. J. Pharm., 2017; 6(1): 1-3 / DOI: 10.21276/sajp.2017.6.1
Antiarthritic effect of aqueous and ethanolic leaf extracts of Pistia stratiotes in adjuvant-induced arthritis in Sprague-Dawley rats / Kyei S, Koffuor GA, Boampong JN / DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JEP.S29792
Pistia stratiotes / Useful Tropical Plants
Antioxidant and wound healing potential of Pistia stratiotes L. / Megha Jha, Versha Sharma, Narayanan Ganesh / Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease 2:S579–S584, May 2013 / DOI.i0.1016/S2222-1808(12)60225-4
Assessment of Thrombolytic Activity of Five Bangladeshi Medicinal Plants: Potential Source for Thrombolytic Compounds / S. M. Moazzem Hossen*, Irfan Newaz Khan, Md. Mominul Islam Sarkar and Md. Anwar Jahid / International Blood Research & Reviews 2(6): 262-269, 2014
Effect of Ethanolic Leaf Extract on Pistia stratiotes on Ethylene Glycol Induced Urolithiasis in Labortory Animals / Israel Raja Johnley, Somasundaram G, Sengottuvelu S, Jaikumar S / International Journal of Phytopharmacology. 8(1), 2017, 13-15.

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