Herb: Water Dropwort

Latin name: Oenanthe javanica

Synonyms: Oenanthe stolonifera

Family: Umbelliferae

Medicinal use of Water Dropwort:

The whole plant is depurative, febrifuge and styptic. A decoction is used in the treatment of epidemic influenza, fever and discomfort, jaundice, haematuria and metrorrhagia. The seed contains 3.5% essential oil. This is effective at large dilutions against pathogenic fungi.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

June to


Habitat of the herb:

Ditches, ponds and wet places in lowland areas all over Japan.

Edible parts of Water Dropwort:

Young leaves and stems - raw or cooked. The leaves are also used as a seasoning in soups etc. The flavour is reminiscent of carrots or parsley. The young shoots that sprout from the root in winter are best. A major vegetable in many parts of the Orient, the leaves are a rich source of vitamins and minerals (Analysis available). Root - cooked. Highly esteemed in Japan, the roots can grow up to 30cm long in water. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Seed is said to be edible.

Other uses of the herb:

Spreading rapidly by means of suckers, it makes a good ground cover plant for wet situations. The variegated cultivar "Flamingo" has been especially recommended.

Propagation of Water Dropwort:

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is erratic. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring. Large divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer. Layering. Stem tip cuttings. Any part of the stem roots easily.

Cultivation of the herb:

Ditches, ponds and wet places in lowland areas all over Japan.

Known hazards of Oenanthe javanica:

Although no specific mention of toxicity has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus that contains a number of very poisonous plants and so some caution is advised. It is said to contain the alleged 'psychotroph' myristicine.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.