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Oenanthe javanica (Blume) DC.

Oenanthe javanica (Blume) DC.




Sium javanicum Blume, Oenanthe stolonifera DC.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Selom, piopo.
English Water dropwort, Indian pennywort, water celery.
Indonesia Tespong (Sundanese), pampung (Javanese), bacarongi (Sumatra).
Papua New Guinea Nase.
Philippines Ongsoy (Tagalog), alusis (Bontoc), holog (Ifugao).
Laos S'ii s'aangz (in common with Apium graveolens).
Thailand Phakchi-lom (General), phakan (Northern).
Vietnam Rau c[aaf]n, rau c[aaf]n n[uw][ows]c.
French Persil séri.

Geographical Distributions

Oenanthe javanica is of Asiatic origin and since the ancient times has been widespread in South, Southeast and East Asia, from Pakistan to Japan and Taiwan, and from northern China down to the tropical parts of Australia (Queensland). In most Southeast Asian countries, it is a minor vegetable gathered from the wild or cultivated on a small scale, but it is one of the most common greens in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.


O. javanica is a perennial, smooth and often aquatic herb. The stems are cylindrical, erect or ascending from a creeping base, hollow, measure 10-100 cm long, much branched and sometimes tinged with red.

The leaves are arranged alternately. The petiole is up to 12 cm long, often sheathing over most of its length and with membranous margins. The leaf-blade is oblong to ovate in outline, measuring 5-30 cm x 5-15 cm and pinnate to tripinnate. The ultimate segments are ovate to narrowly oblong, measuring 0.5-7 cm x 0.3-3.5 cm, with serrate or entire margins, dark green above and dull and lighter coloured with transparent nerves beneath.

The inflorescence is a compound, many-flowered umbel, terminal and opposite the leaves. The peduncle is longitudinally furrowed and measures up to 25 cm long. There are 5-15 primary rays and measure 0.5-3 cm long. The involucres are none or 1. The bracteoles at the base of the umbellules (involucels) are 2-8, linear and green. There are 10-25 secondary rays (pedicels) and measure 2-5 mm long. The flowers are small and white. The sepal teeth are 5 which are distinct, acute, dark green and measure nearly 0.5 mm long. There are 5 obovate petals that measuring up to 2 mm x 1 mm and hairless. The 5 patent stamens are with white filaments, small anthers and yellowish brown. The ovary is hairless. The style is long and persistent.

The fruit is a schizocarp and smooth. The mericarps are 2-3 mm x 0.5-1 mm and with swollen ribs where the marginal ones are much more prominent than the dorsal ones.

Ecology / Cultivation

O. javanica occurs wild in swampy localities, along streams and in wet grasslands and clearings. It is a cool-season plant, but has wide altitudinal adaptation, occurring from sea level to elevation of 2800 m. It thrives in warm wet areas, although some forms have frost-hardy roots and stolons.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 8: Vegetables.

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