Marsilea - Marsileaceae

Marsilea capensis A. braun






Marsilea macrocarpa C.Presl var. capensis (A.Braun) Sim

Common name


Floating form: stipe up to 20 cm long, slender, flexible; leaflets narrowly obdeltate to obdeltate-obovate, outer margin 2-lobate, crenate or rarely entire, at first with appressed long hairs, later becoming hairless. Sporocarps: dark brown to almost black at maturity, 2.75-3.75 mm long, 2.25-3.5 mm high, 0.8-1.25 mm thick, obliquely broad-oblong or irregularly rhombic in lateral view, distally obliquely truncate or more rarely rounded, narrowly elliptic in dorsoventral cross-section, laterally compressed or only slightly inflated; at first densely set with long hairs, becoming hairless when mature; lateral ribs absent; lower tooth absent or very rarely present as a shallow hump, upper tooth present, short, conical, acute or subacute; pedicels 4-7 mm long, slender, erect or ascending, free from each other, solitary, arising from the axil of the stipe.



capensis: from the Cape of Good Hope, from where this species was first described.


Along rivers, in river back-waters, in seasonally swamped grassland, and in water holes.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, probably also in Iraq and Iran.

Distribution in Africa

Egypt, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia.

Growth form

Aquatic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 78 - 79. (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 260 - 261. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 487 - 488. (Includes a picture).
  • Kornas, J. (1979) Distribution and ecology of the Pteridophytes in Zambia. Polska Akademia Nauk Wydzial II Nauk Biologicznych. Page 120.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 175.
  • 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 55.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Pages 66 - 67. (Includes a picture).