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Temporal range: 115–0 Ma (likely) Mid-CretaceousPresent
Flowering Cabomba caroliniana
Flowering Brasenia schreberi
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Order: Nymphaeales
Family: Cabombaceae
Rich. ex A.Rich.[1]

The Cabombaceae are a family of aquatic, herbaceous flowering plants. A common name for its species is water shield.[4] The family is recognised as distinct in the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group IV system (2016). The family consists of two genera of aquatic plants, Brasenia and Cabomba, totalling six species.[5]

Submerged leaf of Cabomba caroliniana A.Gray with scale bar (2 cm) on a white background


The Cabombaceae are all aquatic, living in still or slow-moving waters of temperate and tropical North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Although found on all continents but Antarctica, the plants tend to grow in relatively restricted ranges.[6]

Fossil record[edit]

Fossil Pluricarpellatia peltata specimen in the collection of the Natural History Museum, Berlin, Germany

The family has an extensive fossil record from the Cretaceous with plants that exhibit affinities to either the Cabombaceae or Nymphaeaceae occurring in the Early Cretaceous.[6]

One such likely Cretaceous member is the genus Pluricarpellatia, found in rocks 115 million years old in what is now Brazil.[2]

Scutifolium jordanicum David W.Taylor, G.J.Brenner et S.H.Basha has been described from the lower cretaceous of Jordan.[7]



The family Cabombaceae Rich. ex A.Rich. was first published in 1822 by Louis Claude Richard, but initial description did not satisfy the requirements for valid publications. The family then was validated by Achille Richard.[8]

Taxonomic history[edit]

The APG system of 1998 included this family in the water lily family Nymphaeaceae, as did the APG II system, of 2003 (optionally). The APG III and APG IV systems of classification separated the family Cabombaceae from the family Nymphaeaceae.[9][10][11] The family is part of the order Nymphaeales, which is one of the most basal flowering plant lineages.


  1. ^ Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009), "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III", Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 161 (2): 105–121, doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x, hdl:10654/18083
  2. ^ a b Stevens, Peter F. "Cabombaceae". APWeb. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
  3. ^ Wang, H., & Dilcher, D. L. (2006). "Aquatic angiosperms from the Dakota Formation (Albian, Lower Cretaceous), Hoisington III locality, Kansas, USA." International Journal of Plant Sciences, 167(2), 385-401.
  4. ^ Watson, L.; Dallwitz, M. J. "The families of flowering plants, Cabombaceae". Retrieved 2012-12-01.
  5. ^ Brgaard, Marian (1991). "The genus Cabomba (Cabombaceae) - a taxonomic study". Nordic Journal of Botany. 11 (2): 179–203. doi:10.1111/j.1756-1051.1991.tb01819.x.
  6. ^ a b Friis, Else Marie; Crane, Peter R.; Pederses, Kaj Raunsgaard (2011). Early Flowers and Angiosperm Evolution. Cambridge University Press. 9781139123921.
  7. ^ Taylor, D. W., Brenner, G. J., & Basha, S. D. H. (2008). "Scutifolium jordanicum gen. et sp. nov.(Cabombaceae), an aquatic fossil plant from the Lower Cretaceous of Jordan, and the relationships of related leaf fossils to living genera. American Journal of Botany, 95(3), 340-352.
  8. ^ "Cabombaceae Rich. ex A.Rich". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  9. ^ Iles, W.J.D.; Lee, C.; Sokoloff, D.D.; Remizowa, M.V.; Yadav, S.R.; Barrett, M.D.; Barrett, R.L.; Macfarlane, T.D.; Rudall, P.J.; Graham, S.W. (2014). "Reconstructing the age and historical biogeography of the ancient flowering-plant family Hydatellaceae (Nymphaeales)". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 14 (1): 102. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-14-102. PMC 4030046. PMID 24884487.
  10. ^ Saarela, J.M.; Rai, H.; Doyle, J.; Endress, P.; Mathews, S.; Marchant, A.; Briggs, B.; Graham, S. (2007). "Hydatellaceae identified as a new branch near the base of the angiosperm phylogenetic tree". Nature. 446 (7133): 312–315. Bibcode:2007Natur.446..312S. doi:10.1038/nature05612. PMID 17361182. S2CID 4415881.
  11. ^ Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2016). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG IV". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 181 (1): 1–20. doi:10.1111/boj.12385. ISSN 0024-4074.

Further reading[edit]

  • Simpson, M.G. Plant Systematics. Elsevier Academic Press. 2006.

External links[edit]