In Malaysia most of these aquatic flowering plants are found in ponds, ditches, lakes, dams, rivers, irrigation canals and wet paddy fields. Due to their rapid growth, ability to constantly regenerate and their tolerance to a wide range of environmental conditions, some are considered weeds.
More than 15 species of these plants are edible. Some species are harvested and used as animal fodder. Paddy farmers increase their crop by using plants as green manure in their fields.
Some have medicinal value, while certain species are used as ornaments and source if oxygen in fish tanks and aquariums. Some are cultivated as ornaments in ponds while others are used to make handicrafts.
Recently, efforts have been made to rediscover the usefulness of these plants. In the past, there plants were also depicted as motifs in ancient architecture, art, woodwork as well as on fabrics and tapestries.