Persicaria hydropiper (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Persicaria hydropiper (L.) Spach

Family: Polygonaceae


  • Polygonum flaccidum Meisner,
  • P. gracile R. Br.,
  • P. hydropiper L.

Vernacular names

  • Water pepper (En)
  • Indonesia: si tuba sawah (Sumatra), cacabean (Sundanese)
  • Malaysia: daun senahun, rumput tuboh, tube seluwang
  • Philippines: agagat, tuba (Bontok), buding (Igorot)
  • Thailand: phak phai nam, pha chi mi (northern)
  • Vietnam: nghể răm, nghể nước


Europe, northern Africa, Asia, Australia and North America.


Young leaves and shoots have a strong peppery taste and are used to flavour food. Medicinally the whole plant is used as a diuretic and emmenagogue. In Indonesia the gland-dotted leaves are used as a fish poison.


  • Annual ascending herb, up to 80 cm tall. Stem much branched, rooting at the basal nodes; nodes enlarged and with a red ring at base.
  • Leaves alternate, glandular; petiole 2-5 mm long, sheathing at base and with a prominent, tubular, ciliate ocrea 1.5 cm long; blade lanceolate, 2-8 cm × 0.5-2 cm.
  • Inflorescence spiciform or racemose, up to 17 cm long, terminal or axillary, with funnel-form bracts.
  • Pedicel longer than bract; perianth 4-5-merous, greenish-white to pink; stamens 5; style 2-cleft.
  • Fruit an achene, 2-3-sided, 2-3 mm long, brown-black.

P. hydropiper occurs in open waste places, fields and in sunny, wet locations, from sea-level up to 1500 m altitude. Two subspecies are distinguished: subsp. hydropiper (in temperate climates, all parts larger, fruits mostly 2-sided) and subsp. microcarpum Danser (in tropical climates, all parts smaller, fruits usually 3-sided).

Selected sources

  • Burkill, I.H., 1935. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. 2 volumes. Crown Agents for the Colonies, London, United Kingdom. 2402 pp. (slightly revised reprint, 1966. 2 volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 2444 pp.).
  • Danser, B.H., 1927. Die Polygonaceen Niederlaendisch-Ostindiens [The Polygonaceae of the Dutch East Indies]. Bulletin du Jardin Botanique de Buitenzorg, Série 3, 8(2-3): 117-259.
  • Heyne, K., 1927. De nuttige planten van Nederlandsch Indië [The useful plants of the Dutch East Indies]. 2nd edition, 3 volumes. Departement van Landbouw, Nijverheid en Handel in Nederlandsch Indië. 1953 pp. (3rd edition, 1950. van Hoeve, 's‑Gravenhage/Bandung, the Netherlands/Indonesia. 1660 pp.).
  • Li, Hui‑Lin et al. (Editors), 1975-1979. Flora of Taiwan. 6 volumes. Epoch Publishing Company, Taipei, Taiwan. Second edition (1993- .) edited and published by the Editorial Committee of the Flora of Taiwan, Taipei, Taiwan (editor-in-chief: Huang Tseng-Chieng).
  • Mansfeld, R., 1986. Verzeichnis landwirtschaftlicher und gärtnerischer Kulturpflanzen (ohne Zierpflanzen) [Register of agricultural and horticultural plants in cultivation (without ornamentals)]. Schultze‑Motel, J. et al., editors 2nd edition, 4 volumes. Springer Verlag, Berlin, Germany. 1998 pp.


P.C.M. Jansen