Pilularia - Marsileaceae

Pilularia dracomontana N.R.Crouch & J.Wesley-Smith






Common name


Rhizome creeping, subterranean, irregularly branched, up to 0.23 mm in diameter; roots clusters at nodes, roots unbranched; internodes op to 4 mm long, very sparsely hairy with multicellular hairs when young. Fronds single at nodes, erect, cylindrical or slightly tapering, up to 1.4 cm long, simple, partially subterranean and fully submerged, aerial portions green, underground portions whitish. Sporocarps globose, up to 1.75 mm in diameter, 4-locular, densely hairy with multicellular hairs, bald patches evident, not growing on or close to the ground at maturity; pedicel slender, up to 1.4 mm long, 1 arising from the axil of the stipe. Megasporangia 14 or 15 per sporocarp, each bearing a single ovoid megaspore up to 0.34 mm in diameter, with single prominent ridged apical papilla up to 0.1 mm long. Microsporangia clavate, several per sporocarp, each with 28 or 29 micropores.



dracomontana: of the dragon mountain, this species is endemic to the Drakensberg range in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.


Hydrophyte, in the substrate at the bottom of deep sandstone tarns at medium-high altitudes, at a depth of c. 40 cm.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

South Africa.

Growth form



  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature. Pages 226 - 227. (Includes a picture).