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Herb Gallery

Ze Xie (Alisma orientalis)

  • Botanical name: Alisma orientalis
  • Common name: Alisma rhizome, Water plantain
  • Literal name translation: marsh drain
  • Family: Alismataceae
  • Part used in Chinese medicine: rhizome
  • Major Chinese medicine actions:
  • Leeches dampness, promotes urination,
    clears blazing ministerial fire
Alisma plantago-aquatica
Alisma plantago-aquatica

Photo Credits: (top to bottom)
Photo 1: Alisma plantago-aquatica; 08/2004; author Christian Fischer; permission under GFDL
Photo 2: Alisma plantago-aquatica; 08/2004; author Christian Fischer; permission under GFDL

Growing and Propagation

The plant grows best in full sun or part shade, and requires wet or moist soil. It blooms July to September. Seeds ripen from August to November and can be sown in spring or autumn in a cold frame. When large enough they should be potted and grown in a greenhouse for the first year until planting them in the garden in early summer. They may also be propagated by division. Larger clumps can be planted directly into the garden while growing smaller clumps in a greenhouse until well established, then planting them outside in the spring.

Harvesting and Preparation

Ze Xie is the dried tuber of the plant and is harvested in the winter when the stem is withered. The tuber is washed, cleaned and fibrous root and coarse outer skin removed before drying.

For medicinal use, good quality Ze Xie comes from large, heavy, solid rhizomes. The surface should be smooth without rootlets and outer skin, and the color should be yellowish white. The cross section should be light yellow in color and have a powdery texture.


Alisma orientalis is an aquatic plant, growing in large groups or drifts at pool margins. Flowers bloom most abundantly when the plant is grown in water about 6 inches deep, and will tolerate growing in water as deep as 12 inches.