Marsilea - Marsileaceae

Marsilea villifolia Brem. & Oberm. ex Alston & Schelpe






Marsilea villosa Burchell ex Bremek. & Oberm.
Zaluzianskya villosa (Kaulf.) Kuntze

Common name


Dry land form: stipe 7-20 cm long, very robust, up to 2.5 mm in diameter near the base. Leaflets broadly obdeltate, flanks slightly concave, outer margins irregularly crenate, rarely entire, thickly herbaceous, densely covered with silvery, silky hairs. Sporocarps: solitary, 5-6 mm long, 4-5 mm high, 1-1.5 mm thick; square to obtusely rectangular in lateral view, rectangular in dorsoventral cross-section, with or without a dorsifrontal groove, with densely appressed long hairs, gradually becoming hairless; lateral ribs not visible in fully mature specimens; lower tooth absent or just visible as a shallow hump, upper tooth not very conspicuous, rather short, broadly conical, obtuse; pedicels 4-7 mm long, erect or declined to rhizome, free, with appressed long hairs, arising from the axil of the stipe.


M. villiflolia differs from other species by a combination of characters: its robust habit with much thicker stipes, the sporocarps that appear solitary at the base of the stipes and the pinnae that are densely covered with silky, silvery hairs.


villifolia: with villous leaves; a distinctive characteristic of this species is that the leaves bear long, weak hairs.


Seasonally dry pans and dry riverbeds, and along rivers.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

Botswana, Namibia, South Africa.

Growth form

Aquatic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 76 - 78. (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 256 - 257. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Page 486. (Includes a picture).
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 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 58.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Pages 64 - 65. (Includes a picture).