Marsilea - Marsileaceae

Marsilea schelpeana Launert






Common name


Floating form: stipe up to 24 cm long. Leaflets obovate to obdeltate in outline, hairless, outer margin rounded, usually entire. Dry land form: stipe 1.5-10 cm long. Leaflets narrowly obdeltate in outline, 4-7 x 3-4 mm, outer margins bilobate to deeply incised, slightly hairy when young. Sporocarps: several or solitary, 6-8 x 4-5 mm; asymmetrically elliptic to oblong, dorsally straight, ventrally convex, narrowly elliptic in dorsoventral cross-section; densely set with appressed long hairs, very dark brown; lower tooth absent or inconspicuous, upper tooth prominent, sharply acute, usually somewhat curved. Sporocarp set at an angle of 140° to the pedicel; pedicels 15-45 mm long, erect, rather twisted, free, arising from the stipe a few mm above the rhizome, occasionally arising from the axil of the stipe.


Distinguished by the obtuse angle of the sporocarp to the pedicel, the prominent and sharply pointed upper tooth, also the pedicel is attached to the stipe base a few millimeters up from the rhizome.


schelpeana: for Prof. E.A.C.L.E. Schelpe (1924-1985), South African botanist and plant collector, fern expert.


Along margins of seasonal pools oor dams, along watercourses, along coastal plain of the Western and Eastern Cape to which it is endemic.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

South Africa.

Growth form

Aquatic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 75 - 76. (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 252 - 253. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 484 - 485. (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 58.