Marsilea - Marsileaceae

Marsilea nubica A. Braun var. nubica






Marsilea leiocarpa C.Chr.
Zaluzianskya nubica (A. Braun) Kuntze

Common name


Rhizome very slender, repeatedly branched, forming a widespread system, bearing fronds 0.5–2 cm apart. Floating form: stipe up to 18 cm long; leaflets rather variable, from broadly obtriangular to very narrowly obtriangular, up to 35 mm long, outer margin uneven with shallow indentations, with short or long brown suberose streaks between the veins of the lower surface. Dry land form: stipe 1.5-6 cm long; leaflets rather variable, from broadly obtriangular to very narrowly obtriangular, up to 7 mm long, outer margins entire to very shallowly irregular. Sporocarps: usually single, or crowded at stipe base; very glossy, shiny black, with a few flattened scales when young becoming glabrous with age, epidermis coarsely dotted with old hair scars and usually bearing a fine reticulation of wrinkles, with the black outer layer becoming detached and peeling; rectangular to square in lateral view, dorsoventral cross-section elliptic; lower tooth absent, upper tooth a slight hump. Sporocarp with its long axis at right angles to the pedicel, or nearly so; pedicels up to 3 mm long, free, arising from the axil of the stipe.


Characteristic for this species is the black, glossy sporocarps, with the outer layer peeling of at maturity.


nubica: from Nubia, from north-east africa (Sudan).


Seasonal ponds, pans and vleis or on wet sandy soil.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, Madagascar.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Central African Republic, Chad, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, Sudan and South Sudan, Tanzania .

Growth form

Aquatic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 67 - 68. (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 228 - 231. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 475 - 476. (Includes a picture).
  • Launert, E. (2003) Marsileaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 5 - 6.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Pages 176 - 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 57.