Marsilea minuta

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Marsilea minuta
Marsilea minuta
Marsilea minuta
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Class: Polypodiopsida
Order: Salviniales
Family: Marsileaceae
Genus: Marsilea
M. minuta
Binomial name
Marsilea minuta
L. 1771[2]

Marsilea minuta, or dwarf waterclover is a species of aquatic fern in the Marsileaceae family. Not to be confused with Marsilea minuta E.Fourn. 1880, which is a synonym for Marsilea vestita.[6] Other common names include gelid waterklawer, small water clover,[1] airy pepperwort, and pepperwort,[7] though the lattermost also applies to plants in the genus Lepidium. In French it is called marsilea à quatre feuilles (literally "four-leafed marsilea")[7] and petite marsilée (literally "little Marsilea"),[1] the latter appearing to be a calque with the Latin botanical name. In Chinese it is 南国田字草 (nan guo tian zi cao),[8] literally "southern field word grass," referencing the similarity of the leaflet shape to the Chinese character for "field." The Koch Rajbongshi people and Garo people call it shusni shak.[9] It is called 'শুশনি শাক' ('shushni shak') in Bengali[citation needed]. In parts of India it can be called sunisanakka[10] In Indonesian it is semanggi (literally "clover"),[7] but this name also applies to Marsilea crenata. In Japanese it is nangokudenjiso and in Thai it is phakwaen.[7] In Malaysian it is tapak itek (literally "site duck").[7] In the Philippines it is kaya-kayapuan (literally "so crowded").[7]


M. minuta has a strongly variable appearance,[4] which often leads to confusion with closely related species. In the water the plant is creeping and spreading, while on land it can appear cushion-like.[4] It typically is perennial but sometimes appears annual. It is a tenagophyte, with the juvenile growing submerged and the adult typically terrestrial.[4]

It has a light brown to green rhizome that is 0.4-0.8mm thick with short tan hairs at the ends and internodal roots.[6] The land leaves are on erect, terete, 5–13 cm long petioles.[6] The leaflets are 0.8-1.7 cm by 1.2–2 cm, mostly glabrous, cuneate or flabellate.[6] The leaves in water are typically not floating, but emergent from the water.[6] Fertile leaves are produced on land with up to four sporocarps each at penduncles near the base of the petiole.[6] It has a small sporocarp that is 2.6-4.1mm long, 2.4-3.1mm wide, and 1.3-1.7mm thick.[6][11] The sporocarp has a superior tooth at the apex of the stalk and an inferior tooth at the base.[12][4] The sporocarp has a conspicuous 1.5-2.2mm long raphe,[6][12] about ⅔ the length of the sporocarp and semi-terete.[4] Unlike a few Marsilea species, M. minuta sporocarps mature above ground.[12]

Genomic information
Number of chromosomes40[13]


M. minuta is thought to be closely related to Marsilea quadrifolia.[6] Molecular phylogenetic analysis of the genus Marsilea puts both in a widespread Old World subgroup also called "Marsilea" along with M. angustifolia, M. drummondii, M. crenata, and M. fadeniana and indicating that M. crenata is actually a synonym of M. minuta.[12][7]

Marsilea subgroup

M. angustifolia

M. drummondii

M. minuta-M. crenata-M. fadeniana complex

M. crenata Indonesia

M. crenata Thailand

M. minuta India

M. minuta Myanmar

M. minuta Africa

M. fadeniana

M. quadrifolia

Habitat and ecology[edit]

Marsilea minuta can grow from sea level up to 1,950m in elevation[1] in ponds and other shallow water.[8] It can grow in fresh water or brackish water in clay or sandy soil.[6] The plant can develop into large colonies, and can be weedy.[6][11] Some of its preferred habitat is being lost to agriculture but as it readily grows in Paddy fields, drainage ditches, and other marginal areas its overall population is stable.[1] It has the potential to be invasive and dispersal through aquarium trade and other human means should be limited.[7]

It is a native plant in the following countries:[1]

The leaves and sporocarps of M. minuta are eaten by many waterfowl species, and the intact sporocarps pass through undigested to be spread to new areas.[7] Elophila responsalis also feeds on the leaves, but is not thought to do much damage to the plant.[7]

The plant is susceptible to herbicides such as bensulfuron-methyl. cinosulfuron, 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, oxyfluorfen, and paraquat.[7] Otherwise it can tolerate high levels of organic pollution.[4]


It is eaten in India, Sri Lanka,[14] and in Bangladesh.[9] In China it is used as forage.[8] It has a raw protein content of 3.3%.[14]

The plant is used traditionally in China for edema, skin injuries, snakebite, and inflammation.[8] In Mymensingh District it is traditionally used to treat cough, headache, hypertension, sleep disorders, and respiratory diseases.[9] It is combined with Nardostachys jatamansi and after development by Asima Chatterjee[15] sold as an ayurvedic treatment for epilepsy called "Ayush-56."[10] However, Ayush-56 does not show encouraging results in treating the disease.[16] It is also used as a phytoremediator of arsenic while growing with rice plants.[17][18]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Beentje, H.J. (2017). "Marsilea minuta (Dwarf Water Clover, Gelid Waterklawer, Small Water Clover)". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-1.RLTS.T164326A84291386.en. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Marsilea minuta L. — The Plant List". The Plant List. 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah Marsilea minuta L. in GBIF Secretariat (2016). GBIF Backbone Taxonomy. Checklist Dataset accessed via on 2017-09-20.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Cook, Christopher D. K. (28 March 1996). "Cyperaceae". Aquatic and Wetland Plants of India: a reference book and identification manual for the vascular plants found in permanent or seasonal fresh water in the subcontinent of India south of the Himalayas. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 105. ISBN 9780198548218. OCLC 32968513.
  5. ^ Marsilea minuta L. in GBIF Secretariat (2016). GBIF Backbone Taxonomy. Checklist Dataset accessed via on 2017-09-17
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Johnson, David M. (25 June 1986). Systematics of the New World Species of Marsilea (Marsileaceae). Systematic Botany Monographs. 11. Ann Arbor, MI: The American Society of Plant Taxonomists. pp. 39–40, 51, 63. doi:10.2307/25027626. ISBN 978-0912861111. ISSN 0737-8211. JSTOR 25027626. OCLC 13455360.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Marsilea minuta (pepperwort)". Invasive Species Compendium. Wallingford, UK: CAB International. 15 May 2008. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d Lin, Y. X.; Johnson, D. M. (6 June 2013). Wu, Z. Y.; Raven, P. H.; Hong, D. Y. (eds.). "Marsileaceae" (PDF). Flora of China. 2–3: 123–124. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  9. ^ a b c Sarker, Sujan Kumer; Hossain, A.B.M. Enayet (June 2009). "Pteridophytes of Greater Mymensingh District of Bangladesh used as Vegetables and Medicines" (PDF). Bangladesh Journal of Plant Taxonomy. 16 (1): 54. CiteSeerX doi:10.3329/bjpt.v16i1.2746. ISSN 2224-7297. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  10. ^ a b Krishnamoorthy, Ennapadam S.; Shorvon, Simon; Schachter, Steven; Misra, Vivek, eds. (6 April 2017). "34 Ayurveda and Yoga in the Management of Epilepsy". Epilepsy: A Global Approach (PDF)|format= requires |url= (help). Cambridge University Press. p. 160. doi:10.1017/9781139547918. ISBN 9781108232159. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  11. ^ a b Schelpe, E. A. C. L. E. (1970). "eFloras Results For Marsilea minuta". Flora Zambesiaca. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  12. ^ a b c d Nagalingum, Nathalie S.; Schneider, Harald; Pryer, Kathleen M. (2007). "Molecular Phylogenetic Relationships and Morphological Evolution in the Heterosporous Fern Genus Marsilea". Systematic Botany. 32 (1): 16–25. doi:10.1600/036364407780360256. ISSN 1548-2324.
  13. ^ a b Srivastava, R. B. (1985). "Ferns of the Indo-Nepal border" (PDF). Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Section B: Biological Sciences. 86: 471. doi:10.1017/S0269727000008770. ISSN 0269-7270. OCLC 5549574398. Retrieved 16 January 2018. 23. M. minuta L. 40 20 2.9-4.6 Diploid
  14. ^ a b Terra, G.J.A. (1966). "IIID Ferns and Related Plants". Tropical vegetables: vegetable growing in the tropics and subtropics especially of indigenous vegetables. Communication. 54e (1st ed.). Amsterdam: Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen. p. 57. OCLC 9027279. Marsilea minuta L. (Marsileaceae) I Ce (3.3%)
  15. ^ Basak, Swati (May 2015). "Women, Science, Education And Empowerment: Asima Chatterjee, The Genius Lady" (PDF). IMPACT: International Journal of Research in Humanities, Arts and Literature. 3 (5): 133–138.
  16. ^ Tripathi, M; Maheshwari, MC; Jain, S; Padma, MV (2000). "Ayurvedic Medicine and Epilepsy" (PDF). Neurology Journal of Southeast Asia. 5: 1–4. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  17. ^ Hassi, Ummehani; Hossain, Md. Tawhid; Huq, S. M. Imamul (2017-10-10). "Mitigating arsenic contamination in rice plants with an aquatic fern, Marsilea minuta". Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. 189 (11): 550. Bibcode:2014EMA...186.6263B. doi:10.1007/s10661-017-6270-2. ISSN 0167-6369. PMID 29018967.
  18. ^ Hassi, U; Hossain, MT; Huq, SMI (2018-07-08). "Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium status of rice co-planted with a novel phytoremediator, Marsilea minuta L.". Bangladesh Journal of Agricultural Research. 43 (2): 211–218. doi:10.3329/bjar.v43i2.37326. ISSN 2408-8293.

External links[edit]