Family • Pontederiaceae - Monochoria vaginalis Presl. - OVAL-LEAF PONDWEED

Scientific names

Monochoria vaginalis (Burm.f.) C Presl ex Kunth
Monochoria linearis (Hassk.) Miq.
Monochoria ovata Kunt.
Pontederia vaginalis Burm.
Ye she cao (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

INDONESIA:Eceng padi, Eceng leutik, Wewehan.
JAPANESE: Ko-Nagi, Sasa-Nagi.
JAVANESE: Bengok, Wèwèhan.
KHMER: Chrach.
MALAY: Kakapola.
MALAYSIA: Kelayar, Keladi agak.
SINHALESE: Diyahabarala.
TELUGU: Nirkancha.
THAILAND: Khakhiat, Ninlabon, Phakhin.
VIETNAMESE: Rau ch[os]c, Rau m[as]c l[as] thon.

Common names

Biga-bigaan (Tag.)
Bil-lagut (Ilk.)
Gabi-gabi (P. Bis., C. Bis.)
Gabing-uak (Tag.)
Hahalung (If.)
Hakhaklung (If.)
Kalabua (Tag.)
Lagtang (Bik.)
Lapalapa (Ilk.)
Saksaklung (Ig.)
Saksakong (Bon.)
Upi-upi (Bik.)
Arrow leaf monochoria
Heartshape false pickerelweed (Engl.)
Pickerelweed (Engl.)
Oval-leaf pondweed (Engl.)

Gabing-uak is an aquatic herb, smaller than gabi-gabihan (Monochoria hastata). Rootstocks are short, suberect or creeping, and spongy. Leaves are extremely variable, long-petioled, linear to ovate, oblong-ovate to broadly ovate, with a sharply acuminate apex and cordate base, and with broad lobes, 6 to 10 centimeters long. Petioles are usually less than 30 centimeters long. Inflorescence is spicate, 3 to 6 centimeters long, and few-flowered. Flowers are blue, about 1 centimeter long, pedicles less than 1 centimeter long. Capsules are oblong.


– At low and medium altitudes in open wet places, rice paddies, swamps, etc., from Luzon to Mindanao.
– Widely distributed in India to China, Malaysia and Japan.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Indian medicinal plants: a compendium of 500 species / P. K. Warrier, V. P. K. Nambiar / Volume 4

(2) A study on ethnomedicinal usage of plants among the folklore herbalists and Tripuri medical practitioners: Part-II / Koushik Majumdar* and B K Datta / Natural Product Radiance, Vol. 6(1), 2007, pp.66-73

(3) Monochoria vaginalis / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED

(4) Two Cerebrosides and One Acylglycosyl Sterol from Monochoria vaginalis / Lie-Ching Row, Chiu-Ming Chen and Jiau-Ching Ho / Journal of the Chinese Chemical Society, 2003, 50, 1103-1107 1103

(5) Biochemical and Nutritional Evaluation of Monochoria vaginalis Presl. / S. Pradeesh, G. Nair Archana, M. Devi Chinmayee, C. S. Sarika, I. Mini, T. S. Swapna / Prospects in Bioscience: Addressing the Issues
2013, pp 93-101

(6) Antioxidant and curative effect of Monochoria vaginalis methanolic extract against carbon tetrachloride induced acute liver injury in rats / B. Latha and M. S. Latha* / Der Pharma Chemica, 2013, 5(1):306-312

(7) Phytochemical investigation and screening Analgesic activity of Monochoria vaginalis Presl roots / Manish Kumar Gupta, Shiv Kumar Garg / LAP Lambert Academic Publishing ( 2012-05-11 )

(8) One Alkenylphenol and Steroids from the Aquatic Plant Monochoria vaginalis / Lie-Ching Row, Chiu-Ming Chen and Jiau-Ching Ho* / Journal of the Chinese Chemical Society, 2004, 51, 225-228 225

(9) Antidiabetic and Hypolipidemic Activity of Monochoria Vaginalis Presl. On Alloxan Induced Diabetic Rats / Chinna RR, Periyasamy M, Muthukumar A, Anand G / International Journal For Pharmaceutical Research Scholars, 2013


– Various root extracts yielded alkaloids, carbohydrates, phenols, glycosides, tannins, flavonoids.
– An ethanol extract yielded phytoconstituents n-hexadecanoic acid, 3-methyl- acetate-1-butanol, 1,1,3-triethoxy- propane, Z,Z,Z- 1,4,6,9 – nonadecatetraene, undecanoic acid, 3-trifluoroacetoxy penta decane and 4-ethyl-5-octyl-2,2-bis (trifluoromethyl) – cis-1,3-dioxalone.
– Study of whole plant isolated three new compounds–two cerebrosides and one acylglycosyl sterol.


– Root stock and leaves are cooling, bitter, sweet, aromatic, alterant, diuretic and tonic.

Parts utilized
Leaves, roots.

Edibility / Nutritional
– Tubers, leaves and aerial parts are eaten, raw or cooked.
– In Bengal, tender stalk and leaves are eaten as vegetable.
– In Java, entire plant, except for the roots, eaten as vegetable.
– Nutritional evaluation suggests the plant can be an alternative nutrient rich leafy vegetable.


– Leaves are poulticed after boils have burst.
– Juice of roots for stomach and liver problems, asthma and toothache.
– In Java leaf juice use for coughs; roots for stomach and liver complaints, asthma and toothache. Leaves with ginger and honey taken for cough and cold.
– Bark eaten with sugar for asthma.
– In India, used for burns and scalds; general debility, asthma, fever, hemorrhage, cough, scurvy, dipsia, strangury, gastropathy, hepatopathy, odontalgia, scurvy and hemorrhages.
– Paste of tuber used externally as antidote to snakebite poisoning in Tamil Nadu.
– In Tripuri, India, decoction of fresh roots used for nausea. Whole plant is cooked by tribal people and used in digestive disorders. Young shoots used for gastritis and asthma.
– Paniya tribe of India use the leaves for diabetes.
– In the Siddha system, roots is used for cough, disease of pittam, venereal afflictions, thirst, fainting, and fever.
– Juice of leaves applied to boils.
– In Ayurvedic and Unani medicine, root is chewed for toothaches and sugared bark for asthma.

Study Findings
• Phytoremediation: Monochoria vaginalis is one of the plants considered promising candidates for cleaning up arsenic-contaminated surface water and wetland areas.
• Antioxidant / Anti-Inflammatory: Root and leaf extracts were evaluated for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. An ethanol leaf extract showed maximum radical scavenging activity in ABTS, superoxide and hydrogen peroxide assays. In in vivo anti-inflammatory study, a methanolic leaf extract showed appreciable reduction in paw volume.
• Nephroprotective / Acetaminophen Induced Toxicity: Study investigated a methanol extract in rats with acetaminophen-induced toxicity. Results showed it can prevent renal damage from APAP-induced nephrotoxicity in rats, probably mediated through active phytoconstituents and antioxidant activities.
• Biochemical and Nutritional Evaluation: Nutritional evaluation showed maximum amount of total carbohydrates, total protein, reducing sugar and amino acids like methionine were present in the young leaf. The plant can be proposed as an alternative nutrient leaf vegetable.
• Hepatoprotective / Carbon Tetrachloride Hepatic Injury: Study investigated a methanolic extract of Monochoria vaginalis for antioxidant and curative effect against CCl4 induced acute liver injury in rats. Extract treatment showed significant protection of liver as evidenced by enzymes and lipid peroxide levels, together with reduction in histopathological changes. Antioxidant status was measured by activity of GSH, catalase, SOD, GST and GPx. Activity was attributed to the presence of flavonoids and alkaloids.
• Analgesic Activity / Roots: Various extracts of roots yielded alkaloids, phenols, carbohydrates, glycosides, tannin, and flavonoids. Total ethanolic extract, chloroform fraction, and aqueous extract of M. vagnalis showed analgesic activity by Tail Immersion and Eddy’s hot plate methods.
• Alkenylphenol and Steroids: Study isolated two new compounds from the whole plant— (10Z)-1-(2,6-dihydroxyphenyl)octadec-10-en-1-one (1) (20R,24R)-campest-5-ene-3b,4b-diol (2)— together with nine known ones.
• Anti-Diabetic / Leaves: Study of hydroalcoholic extract of leaves for anti-diabetic activity in alloxan induced diabetic albino rats. Results showed significant reduction in blood glucose levels.
• Mineral and Heavy Metal Content: In a study of mineral content and heavy metal content of traditionally important aquatic plants of Tripura, India, Monochoria vaginalis showed: potassium (9.19 ppm), K/Na ration (7.67) , Mg (3.028 ppm), Cu (0.138 ppm), Pb (0.021 ppm), Mn (3.386 ppm).