Marsilea - Marsileaceae

Marsilea coromandelina Willd.

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Marsilea trichocarpa Bremek.
Marsilea pygmaea Brongn.
Marsilea trichopoda Lepr. ex A.Braun
Marsilea muscoides Lepr.ex A.Braun
Marsilea microphylla C.Chr.

Common name


Floating form: Description?. Dry land form: Rhizome slender, very thin, often thread-like, long creeping, repeatedly branched. Stipes very slender, filiform, flexible, 1–7(–12) cm long, usually hairless. Leaflets rather small, 1.5-10(-19) mm long, 1.25-8 mm wide, narrowly obcuneate-obdeltate to obtriangular in outline, sides usually straight, outer margins round, (sub)entire to finely incised, usually hairless with translucent streaks between the veins. Sporocarps: solitairy, 2-4 mm long, 1.5-2.7 mm high, 1-2 mm thick, brown to greyish brown, subcircular-elliptic in lateral view, vertical cross-section lemon-shaped, always distinctly bordered all round, with the lateral walls conspicuously bulging when fully mature, lateral veins (as seen on the interior surface) not anastomosing; raphe distinct, often short, covering 1/2–2/3 the length of the sporocarp base, usually broadened and often forming a ridged collar-like structure; with appressed hairs when young, soon becoming glabrous, lateral ribs prominent; lower tooth a rounded to pointed hump, upper tooth a prominent hump with an acute point; pedicels up to 17(-25) mm long, slender, free, upright or ascending, 1 arising from axil of the stipe, usually hairless. Sori (6–)8–12.


Recognizable as a delicate, often rather small fern with very narrow pinnae that have distinctive translucent streaks between the veins; the sporocarp is clearly lemon-shaped in cross-section and has prominent lateral ribs.


coromandelina: named after the type locality at the Coromandel coast (south-eastern tip of India)


Arid bushveld regions, upper limits of seasonal or temporal vleis and pans, edge of lakes and rivers, moist ground in seasonally swampy areas.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, Madagascar, Socotra and India.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Botswana, Burkina Fasso, Burundi, Dem. Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan and South Sudan, Tanzania , Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Aquatic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 68 - 70. (Includes a picture).
  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature. Pages 234 - 235. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 477 - 478. (Includes a picture).
  • Launert, E. (1975) Marsiliaceae.Flore d' Afrique Centrale, Pages 3 - 6. (Includes a picture).
  • Launert, E. (2003) Marsileaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 7 - 9. (Includes a picture).
  • Launert, E. (1975) Marsiliaceae.Flore d' Afrique Centrale, Pages 2 - 3. (Includes a picture).
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 175.