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Seasonal herbs, aquatic, subaquatic or terrestrial in moist places, rhizome creeping with well-spaced fronds, solenostelic, clothed with hairs. Leaves long and filiform without leaflets, or with 2 or 4 leaflets at the apex of a long filiform stalk, veins in the leaflets several times forked, free to the margin or casually anastomosing, glabrous or hairy. Sporangia borne in sori in sporocarps (conceptacles), with a single large megaspore or numerous minute microspores, both types in the same sorus, the sori in 2 rows in the sporocarp, the sporocarps solitary or in groups, axillary, or inserted on the petiole; spores trilete.

A cosmopolitan family of 3 genera with c. 70 species. So far, only a single species of Marsilea has been recorded from Papuasia.


Croft, J.R. 1985. Marsileaceae. In Leach, G.J. & Osborne, P.L., Fresh water plants of Papua New Guinea. Univ. P.N.G., Port Moresby. pp. 48 - 50.

Johns, R.J. 1981. The ferns and fern-allies of Papua New Guinea. Part 10: the Marsileaceae. P.N.G. Univ. Tech. Res. Rep. R 48-81: 33.1 - 33.3.

Launert, E. 1968. A monographic survey of the genus Marsilea Linneaus. 1. The species of Africa and Madagascar. Senck. Biol. 49: 273 - 315.

Tindale, M.D. 1953. Studies in Australian pteridophytes, No. 1. Contrib. N.S.W. Nat. Herb. 2: 5 - 12. (Marsilea)


A single genus in Papuasia ... Marsilea (1)


The cryptic genus Pilularia occurs in Australia and may well occurn in New Guinea as well. It is smaller and finer than most Marsilea and has a find tapering stem-like leaf without the radial leaf-lobes of Marsilea.

Updated November 1999 by Jim Croft (