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Useful Tropical Plants

Marsilea mutica

Mett.

Marsileaceae

+ Synonyms

Common Name: Smooth Nardoo

Marsilea mutica
Leaves
Photograph by: Hill, R.
Image credit to Australian National Botanic Gardens
Marsilea mutica Marsilea mutica Marsilea mutica Marsilea mutica Marsilea mutica

General Information

Smooth nardoo is a fern producing solitary, or clumps, of fronds up to 90cm tall at intervals along a long, creeping, much-branched rhizome.
Its sporocarps were gathered from the wild and used as a food by the native Australian Aborigines, though they have potential health disbenefits. (see notes on toxicity).

Known Hazards

Although we have found no reports of toxicity for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
The sporocarps of this species also contain thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of vitamin B1. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. Fairly resistant to heat, the quantity of enzyme can be greatly reduced by thoroughly drying or cooking the plant[
172
Title
Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest.
Publication
 
Author
Schofield. J. J.
Publisher
Alaska Northwest Books; Alaska
Year
2003
ISBN
0882403699
Description
A nice guide to some useful plants in that area.
,
286
Title
Flora of Australia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.anbg.gov.au/abrs/abif/flora/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The full information from the Flora of Australia - on-line. An excellent resource.
].

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
265
Title
Flora of the Sydney Region
Publication
 
Author
Carolin. R. & Tindale. M.
Publisher
Reed. Australia.
Year
1993
ISBN
0730104001
Description
Concise flora with little beyond an extensive key, species descriptions, very brief habitat description.
,
286
Title
Flora of Australia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.anbg.gov.au/abrs/abif/flora/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The full information from the Flora of Australia - on-line. An excellent resource.

Range

Australia - Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia, southern Tasmania, Northern Territory.

Habitat

Edges of ponds and lagoons, on river banks and in deep water[
265
Title
Flora of the Sydney Region
Publication
 
Author
Carolin. R. & Tindale. M.
Publisher
Reed. Australia.
Year
1993
ISBN
0730104001
Description
Concise flora with little beyond an extensive key, species descriptions, very brief habitat description.
]. Shallow water in seasonally wet habitats[
286
Title
Flora of Australia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.anbg.gov.au/abrs/abif/flora/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The full information from the Flora of Australia - on-line. An excellent resource.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *
HabitFern
Height0.90 m
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

Found in tropical and subtropical areas.

Most species produce sporocarps as their habitat dries. Spores of some species retain viability within the sporocarp for nearly 70 years; thus species can survive in areas of infrequent rainfall[
286
Title
Flora of Australia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.anbg.gov.au/abrs/abif/flora/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The full information from the Flora of Australia - on-line. An excellent resource.
].

Edible Uses

Spores - cooked[
144
Title
Wild Food in Australia.
Publication
 
Author
Cribb. A. B. and J. W.
Publisher
Fontana
Year
1976
ISBN
0-00-634436-4
Description
A very good pocket guide.
]. A source of starch, the spores can be ground into a powder and used like flour. They are astringent and highly indigestible. The spores are contained in a sporocarp. The sporocarps are a rich source of thiaminase, an enzyme that can destroy vitamin B1 in the diet[
286
Title
Flora of Australia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.anbg.gov.au/abrs/abif/flora/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The full information from the Flora of Australia - on-line. An excellent resource.
]. As such, they are best viewed as a temporary food of last resort[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Medicinal

None known

Other Uses

None known

Propagation

Spores. The plant produces sporocarps, these need to be lightly abraded and then immersed in water. The sporocarps will then swell and burst to release the spores. The spores germinate immediately, the highly developed prothallus remains inside the large seed-like spores. The gametophyte generation is completed in 24 hours and the first roots and shoots appear in 2 - 3 days. Mature plants bearing sporocarps can develop in as little as 3 months[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Spore germination in the family occurs after rupture of the sporocarp wall allows the sporocarp contents to be hydrated. A gelatinous structure emerges from the sporocarp, breaking it into valves and carrying the sori into the water. Spore germination (gametophyte growth) and fertilization occur immediately[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
].
Division.
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2019-08-25. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Marsilea+mutica>

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