Marsilea - Marsileaceae

Marsilea gibba A.Braun






Common name


Rhizome slender, repeatedly branched, terete or furrowed, with very scattered long hairs or hairless, sometimes somewhat villous at the nodes; internodes 0.5–15 cm long. Stipes 3–15(–20) cm long, rather slender, sparsely set with long hairs or hairless. Leaflets olive-green to dark green, broadly obtriangular or rarely narrowly obtriangular in outline, 5–16 mm long, 3–14 mm wide, almost always hairless; sides straight or slightly convex; outer margin rounded, usually entire, rarely crenulate. Pedicel slender, flexible, gently curved, usually erect, but also horizontally spreading or even growing towards the ground and thus burying the sporocarp into the soil, (6–)8–15 mm long, appressed pilose at first, later quite glabrous. Sporocarps solitary, rarely in groups, brown, broadly elliptic (rarely subcircular) in lateral view, elliptic or obtusely rhombic in dorso-ventral cross-section, 3.8–5.5 mm long, 3–4.5 mm wide, up to 3.8 mm thick, distinctly bordered at first, inconspicuously bordered when fully mature, with appressed long hairs at first, later gradually glabrescent; lateral veins (as seen on the interior surface) mostly anastomosing; lateral ribs 6–8, hardly visible in mature sporocarps; raphe very distinct, broad, collar-like, attached to the sporocarp; inferior tooth very inconspicuous or sometimes developed as a prominent obtuse hump; superior tooth always distinct, short, broadly conical, subacute, or acute, rarely obtuse. Sori 8–10(–12).



gibba: gibbus, a hump.


Seasonal pools, muddy ditches, rock pools, in water or on dried-out mud.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Burkina Fasso, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Dem. Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Kenya, Mali, Rwanda, Sudan and South Sudan, Tanzania , Uganda.

Growth form

Aquatic, terrestrial.


  • Launert, E. (2003) Marsileaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 3 - 5. (Includes a picture).
  • Launert, E. (1975) Marsiliaceae.Flore d' Afrique Centrale, Page 6. (Includes a picture).
  • 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.