Ribbon-leaved water plantain (Alisma gramineum) - Species Action Plan

An inconspicuous species that occurs sporadically; possibly overlooked, particularly as a submerged aquatic. Recorded from deep to shallow waters in lowland lakes and ditches. Tolerant of eutrophic conditions but intolerant of competition from other vegetation. Germination may be dependent on disturbance. Grows as a deeply submerged perennial, as rosettes with floating and emergent leaves in shallow water and as a terrestrial annual on periodically inundated soils where competition is suppressed. Flowers when submerged or emergent and may produce more than one inflorescence in favourable conditions. Seed may show a capacity for dormancy.
Ref  1/S26 Species Action Plan 26
Plan Author: Norfolk Wildlife Trust
Plan Co-ordinator: Norfolk Wildlife Trust
Review complete January 2003

Action Plan Summary

Current Status

National Status

  • Nationally-rare. British Red Data Book species (Wigginton 1999).
  • Critically endangered (Wigginton 1999).
  • First discovered in Britain in 1920 at an artificial lake, Westwood Great Pool. It still persists at this site though plants may fail to appear in some years. The reason for the fluctuations is unknown. Discovered in the River Glen and associated drains, Lincolnshire in 1955.
  • Post 1987, confined to two sites: Westwood Great Pool (shallow lake) in Worcestershire and a drainage ditch in Lincolnshire, where it appeared in 1991 and 1992 after clearance; however, it did not survive once Phragmites australis recolonised the site (Wigginton 1999).

Norfolk Status

  • Recorded in 1972 on the shores of Langmere, East Wretham Heath, Breckland (Beckett and Bull 1999). 
    Now considered to be extinct in Norfolk but may survive as dormant seed.
  • Although suggested that East Anglian populations may have been derived from seed carried by wildfowl arriving from Denmark or the Baltic (Libbey and Swann 1973), it may also have been present unnoticed, possibly as a submerged population.

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Current factors affecting the habitat in Norfolk

Recent historic changes in the management of Langmere, ie a cessation of poaching at the margins and a cessation of the practice of ploughing and cropping when dry, may have contributed to the decline and loss.

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Current Action in Norfolk

None, but potential for reintroduction.

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Action Plan Objectives and Targets


  • Protect extant sites and viable populations.
  • Consider reintroduction into former sites. 


  • Participate in any reintroduction programme.

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Management Guidance

(This guidance is a general summary; for detailed information or advice consult the references or contacts below.)

Germination may be dependent on disturbance.

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Key Contacts

General Information

Tim Pankhurst, Contractor to English Nature Species Recovery Programme, 44 The Avenue, Leighton Bromswold, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, Tel: 01480-890702 / Email: timpankhurst@aol.com

Bev Nichols, Breckland Field Officer, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Breckland Reserves Office, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, East Wretham Heath, Thetford Road, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 1RU, Tel: 01953-498339 / Email: bevn@norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk

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Beckett, G and Bull, A (1999) A flora of Norfolk. Norfolk: Gillian Beckett. 
Chatters, C (1996) Conserving rare plants in muddy places. British Wildlife 7(5): 281-286.

Libbey, R P and Swann, E L (1973) Alisma gramineum: a new county record. Nature in Cambridgeshire 16: 39-41.

Wigginton, M J (Ed) (1999) British Red Data Books 1: Vascular plants. Third edition. Peterborough: Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

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