Methods are described for toxicity testing of water and sediment with two varieties of the freshwater marsh plant Echinochloa crusgalli (Linneaus) Palisot de Beauvois (Poaceae), and complex effluents. Two tests are described: a seed germination and early seedling growth test in water, and a survival and seedling growth test in natural and synthetic sediments. Effects of effluents from a sewage treatment plant, tannery, textile mill, pulp and paper mill, coking plant and sewage treatment plant included inhibition of germination, chlorophyll synthesis and growth. The tests with rooted marsh plants were sensitive to pollutants and detected toxicity of a range of pollutants in water and sediment. Synthetic sediments similar to natural sediments allowed toxicity tests to be done under carefully controlled conditions of particle size distribution, organic content, pH, electrode potential (Eh) and cation exchange capacity (CEC).