All about ater taro or pickerel weed

water taro

The scientific name of the arrowleaf false pickerelweed is Monochoria hastata.


Scientific names Common names
Calcarunia hastata (L.) Raf. [Invalid] Gabi-gabi (Bis.)
Carigola hastata (L.) Raf. Gabi-gabihan (Tag.)
Monochoria chinensis Gand. Kosol-kosol (Bis.)
Monochoria dilatata (Buch.-Ham) Kunth Payau-payau (Bis.)
Monochoria hastifolia C.Presl. Arrowleaf false pickerelweed (Engl.)
Monochoria hastata (L.) Solms Arrow leaf pondweed (Engl.)
Monochoria sagitata Kunth Leaf pondweed (Engl.)
Pontederia dilatata Buch.-Ham. Pickerel weed (Engl.)
Pontederia hastata L. Water taro (Engl.)
Pontederia sagitata Roxb. [Illegitimate]
Pontederia vaginalis Blanco [Illegitimate]
Monochoria hastata (L.) Solms is an accepted name


Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Jian ye yu jiu hua, Tzu ku, Shui ping, Yu jiu hua shu.
HINDI: Launkia.
INDIA: Chichiri, Kichiri.
INDONESIA: Bia-bia, Eceng gede, Kerkerlen, Keteme, Oppuoppu, Wewehan.
LAOS: ‘ii hin.
MALAYSIA: Chacha layar, Kankon ayer, Keladi agas.
THAILAND: Phakpong, Phaktop, Phaktop-thai.
VIETNAM: Rau m[as]c.

water taro seedsBotany

Pickerel weed is fast-growing perennial herb. Leaves are long-petioled. Petioles are stout, up to 60 centimeters long, sheathing below. Blade is broadly ovate, 10 to 30 centimeters long, the base prominently hastate, the sinus very broad, the lobes spreading and oblong-ovate. Inflorescence is spicate, many flowered, 4 to 5 centimeters long. Flowers are blue, about 1 centimeter long, the lower ones with elongated pedicels. Fruits are ellipsoid 3-valved capsules, about 1 centimeter long. Seeds are numerous, oblong, with 8 to 12 longitudinal ridges.


– In open wet lands, swamps, along freshwater pools, etc., at low and medium altitudes.

– Also occurs in India, China, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Guinea and parts of Australia.


– Particularly rich in protein, 39.5%.

– Various fractions of leaf protein concentrate show protein content ranging from 47.4 – 89.4% of dry matter and digestibility ranging from 40.2 to 85.4% of protein.


Alterative, cooling and tonic.

Parts utilized:



– In Malaya and Java, the leaves are eaten as vegetable, raw or cooked.

– In Bengal, tender stalk and leaves eaten as vegetable.

– Inflorescence is edible, eaten raw or cooked as vegetable.

– In India, stems and leaves are ingredients of a special dish of the Gudak tribe.

Folkloric traditional medicine benefits and uses of  water taro

– The leaves are used for poulticing boils after they have burst.

– Juice of roots used for stomach pains, asthma, toothache.

– Juice of leaves used for cough.

– Leaves used for insanity.

– Root bark used for asthma.

– Juice of leaves applied to boils.

– Rhizomes pounded in charcoal used for scurf.

– In India, used in a herbal mixture to strengthen uterine tone.

– In Bangladesh, used against diarrhea and dysentery; also, as an aphrodisiac.

– In Indonesia, rhizome is pounded with charcoal and the mixture applied to itches.

– In Ayurveda, leaves and flowers used for wounds, general edema and papules. Considered diuretic, blood purifier, and to reduce pitta dosha.

Other uses

Aquafeed: Roots and tender leaves used for grass carp fingerlings.

Scientific studies on water taro

Anti- and Pro-Lipase Effect:

Malaysian study evaluated the effect of aqueous methanolic extracts of 98 medicinal, herbal, and aquatic plant materials for their effect on procine pancreatic lipase (PPL) activity. The degree of inhibition was quantified as relative to orlistat activity against PPL (orlistat equivalents). Monochoria showed moderate inhibition, 43.3%. It was noted that while the leaves inhibited PPL activity, the root enhanced the activity slightly.

Phytoaccumulation of Arsenic:

Phytoaccumulation study of three plant species viz., Eichhornia crassipes, Echinochloa crusgalli and Monochoria hastata showed the plants can be used as arsenic accumulator in arsenic contaminated soils.



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