Marsilea - Marsileaceae

Marsilea vera Launert






Common name


Floating form: stipe 13-30 cm long, hairless to slightly hairy. Leaflets 7-17 × 5.5-15 mm, obovate to obdeltate, outer margin entire to slightly irregular, hairless. Dry land form: stipe up to 21 cm long. Leaflets 5-20 × 4-19 mm, narrowly obovate-obdeltate, outer margins irregularly incised, slightly hairy to hairless. Sporocarps: solitairy, buried in the soil; 3.5-7 mm long, 3-5 mm high, up to 3 mm thick; old specimens blackish, sub-rectangular to broadly elliptic in lateral view, vertical cross-section elliptic to rectangular, usually without a groove on upper and outer side; densely appressed hairy; lower tooth absent, upper tooth short, broadly conical, obtuse; pedicels up to c.10 mm long, straight or curved, growing downwards thus burying the sporocarp into the soil, hairless.


It can be distinguished from other species by sporocarps that grow downwards into the ground, also there are no translucent streaks present in the leaflets.


vera: verutum: javelin; which, like the sporocarps of this fern, pegs itself into the ground.


Deciduous woodland, usually in sandy soils along the margins of seasonal pans and vleis.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

Botswana, Ethiopia, Namibia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Aquatic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Page 78. (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 258 - 259. (Includes a picture).
  • Heath, A. & Heath, R. (2009) Field Guide to the Plants of Northern Botswana including the Okavango Delta. Kew Publishing. Page 560. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 486 - 487. (Includes a picture).
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 177.
  • 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 58.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 65.