Species- Ferns (families, genera, species)‎ > ‎M---Z‎ > ‎M‎ > ‎Marsileaceae‎ > ‎Marsilea‎ > ‎

Marsilea minuta

Marsilea minuta L., Mant. Pl. 308 308 1771. (Syn: Marsilea diffusa var. approximata A. Braun; Marsilea perrieriana C. Chr.);
 
M. quadrifolia does NOT occur in India (apart from some cultures in Universities etc.) - it is mainly a European species, as has been known now since two or three decades. It is distinguished quite easily by the sorocarps arising from a short way up the leaf pedicel, not in the axil where the pedicell meets the basal stem as in Indian species.
All the reports from India, Pakistan etc., which basicly go back to 19th Century alpha-taxonomy, turned out on investigation to be either sterile plants - which are unidentifiable - or mistakes.
The usual mistake is for the very widespread and common Indian species, M. minuta (syn.: M. crenata), with the sorocarps arising at the axil. There are two other species in peninsular India, and any number of forms of M. minuta have been described, sometimes as species.  


 
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Marsilea - an aquatic fern:  Photo: 2011-01-09
small stream in farmland. Havelock Island, Andaman Islands
Marsilea sp - this is an aquatic fern with leaves that resembles Oxalis.
Are there many species?

Yes there are indeed quite a few species of Marsilea
M. crenata is not a native of India, but of Australia and the Philippines.
M. quadrifolia is also not a native of India (not even of Kashmir) but of Europe.  
This plant is surely going to be the common Indian native, M. minuta, as also recorded by Dixit & Sinha in their "Pteridophytes of the Andamans & Nicobars" (correctly!).  However, as anyone will tell you, the floating plants are sterile, and Marsilea species cannot be identified in the absence of sorocarps.  Sorocarps are produced when plants are on dry land at the edges of ponds. 
Yes,  there are two other good species in India, M. aegyptiaca and M. coromandelina - but then some dozen other "species" were described from India which mostly appear to be more in the way of just forms of M. minuta (but anyway, still need investigating further and re-assessed as to what their status really is, some are definitely forms of minuta and not species by more usual concepts of species).

I think this is M. minuta, but this information needs be cofirmed on the basis of study of its sporocarp.
I agree with the views expressed by  .... 
 
 
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Hooghly Today : Marsilea sp. :  Attachments (5). 6 posts by 3 authors.
Bengal Plants gives key to two Marsilea species -
(i) Pedicels adnate to the base of the petiole ------- quadrifoliata
(ii) Pedicels quite free from the petioles ------- minuta
FoNA keys in -
(i) roots both at nodes and sparsely (1-3) along internodes ------ quadrifolia
(ii) others
These small fern plants are of unusual appearance and do not resemble common ferns. Common names are water clover and four-leaf clover. Leaves are either held above water or submerged. A most useful plant for creating a dense green cover as foreground for the aquarium.
We eat this fern as a vegetable and call it as SUSHNI-SHAK in Bengali - http://en.bdfish.org/2013/01/water-clover-marsilea-sp/
Well it sometimes takes a long time for later research work to become generally known. First M. quadrifolia does NOT occur in India (apart from some cultures in Universities etc.) - it is mainly a European species, as has been known now since two or three decades. It is distinguished quite easily by the sorocarps arising from a short way up the leaf pedicel, not in the axil where the pedicell meets the basal stem as in Indian species.
All the reports from India, Pakistan etc., which basicly go back to 19th Century alpha-taxonomy, turned out on investigation to be either sterile plants - which are unidentifiable - or mistakes.
The usual mistake is for the very widespread and common Indian species, M. minuta (syn.: M. crenata), with the sorocarps arising at the axil. There are two other species in peninsular India, and any number of forms of M. minuta have been described, sometimes as species. 
Finally, no Marsilea can be identified from photographs that do not show close-up details of the sorocarps - thus although I can wager that the plants in the photos are presumably M. minuta, they can't actually be identified as such until we can see the sorocarps - which generally develop when the plant grows out of the water on land and becomes much smaller. 
I wonder if people know the interesting story of the Australian species called there "Nardoo grass" (from a place name), which is a Marsilea, I think perhaps M. drummondii, a large species with densely hairy leaves. The European settlers found that the Aboriginees, perfectly in balance with their surrounding natural environment, ate it and survived harsh times from using it as a food stuff - and a number of settlers attempted at various times to follow suit. But they did not know that like tapioca etc. it must be well boiled first, as otherwise it contains a strong alkaloid poison [I hope I have the details right] - which resulted in numbers of deaths of explorers and settlers. 
Maybe one has to identify which one it is, as a first priority - which brings me back to the point that we need to see those little sorocarps!
Many many thanks to Dr. Chris for elaborating on the genus Marsilea.
It's sort of another 'eye-opening' learning that Marsilea quadrifolia does not occur in our country. Yet so many 'papers' are getting published each year assessing the medicinal properties of Marsilea quadrifolia in our country, some are as latest as this one -http://www.isca.in/MEDI_SCI/Archive/v1i1/2.ISCA-IRJMedS-2013-006.pdf!
 
 
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marsilea quadrifolia -- Tanay Bose: Marsilea quadrifolia from Marsileaceae (pteridophyte) captured from kolkata
used as a leafy vegetable in bengal 
Identification request : 4 posts by 2 authors. Attachments (1)- 2 mb. 
This plant grows under a mango tree on moist soil. I am confused about its identity. Please suggest its correct ID.
Marsilea vistita? 
Generally Marsilea grows in muddy or wet habitats but this grows in moist soil. 
Location: Rajgir, Nalanda, Bihar
Time:  July 2020 

It is perfectly ordinary Marsilea minutaThey live in water or on dampish soil. When on the ground they usually start to grow smaller leaves with crenate outer margins and become fertile. But this hasn't got that far yet.
M. vestita is non-Indian. People posting here really need some accurate modern fern-literature on Indian Ferns!
  

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