Marsilea - Marsileaceae

Marsilea macrocarpa C.Presl

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Marsilea dregeana A. Braun
Marsilea rotundata A. Braun
Marsilea fischeri Hieron

Common name


Floating form: stipe 15-30 cm long. Leaflets 15-23 mm long and wide, hairless, broadly obdeltate often with concave flanks, outer margin rounded, entire. Dry land form: stipe 3-21 cm long. Leaflets 4-25 mm long and wide, flanks straight or slightly concave, outer margins shallowly crenate to irregularly incised, slightly hairy when young. Sporocarps: solitary, fluctuating in size, 3.5-7 mm long, 3-5.5 mm high, 1.5-2 mm thick; elliptic or more or less rectangular to subcircular in lateral view, rectangular in vertical cross-section with the sides sometimes concave, grooved on the upper and outer side, slightly hairy; lateral ribs more or less visible in young specimens; lower tooth absent, upper tooth a short hump or an obtuse point. Sporocarp set at an angle of 90° to almost 180° to the pedicel; pedicels up to 7-12 mm long, erect or arching, free, single, arising from the base of the stipe.


Can be distinguished by combination of very short upper tooth, groove on the upper and outer side and concave flanks of the sporocarp, free and solitary pedicels.


macrocarpa: with large fruits or sporocarps.


Areas with permanent or temporary ground water, seasonal vleis and pans, temporary grassland depressions, along streams, sometimes in running water. Seasonal pattern, dormant in dry season.

Distribution worldwide

Angola, DRC, Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania , Uganda, Zimbabwe.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 74 - 75. (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 248 - 249. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 482 - 483. (Includes a picture).
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 176.
  • Roux, J.P. (2009) Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands. Strelitzia 23, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Page 56.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta. Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 64.