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Useful Tropical Plants

Marsilea quadrifolia

L.

Marsileaceae


Marsilea quadrifolia is quite close to Marsilea minuta, and in fact specimens of Marsilea from China seem intermediate between the two species in sporocarp size and peduncle attachment. Study of a wide range of Old World material of Marsilea would be required, however, to resolve the question of whether Marsilea quadrifolia and Marsilea minuta represent distinct species[
308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.
].

+ Synonyms

Common Name: Water Clover

Marsilea quadrifolia
The dense growth can carpet the ground
Photograph by: Show_ryu
GNU Free Documentation License
Marsilea quadrifolia Marsilea quadrifolia Marsilea quadrifolia

General Information

Water clover is a deciduous, aquatic fern producing clumps of leaves up to 15 - 20cm tall at intervals along a long, creeping, much-branched rhizome. Thin green stalks rise from the rhizome to the water surface, each stalk bearing a single shamrock-like leaf with four wedge-shaped leaflets. The plant forms dense stands, or has a random growing pattern[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
The plant has been harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine. It is often cultivated as an ornamental in aquaria and garden ponds[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
This species is widespread and common in Europe and some Asiatic countries such as China. No major threats have been reported. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2011)[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].

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
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
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

58
Title
Flora of Japan. (English translation)
Publication
 
Author
Ohwi. G.
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution
Year
1965
ISBN
-
Description
The standard work. Brilliant, but not for the casual reader.
,
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.

Range

Europe - Austria, Germany and Czechoslovakia, south to Portugal, Spain, Italy and Albania.

Habitat

Ponds, ditches and paddy fields in Japan and China[
58
Title
Flora of Japan. (English translation)
Publication
 
Author
Ohwi. G.
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution
Year
1965
ISBN
-
Description
The standard work. Brilliant, but not for the casual reader.
,
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
]. Shallow water of lakes, ponds, or quiet sections of rivers and streams and on wet shores[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Properties

Weed PotentialYes
Conservation StatusLeast Concern
Edibility Rating *
Medicinal Rating *  *
HabitFern
Height0.20 m
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant originally of the temperate zone, it can be grown in many areas of the tropics and subtropics at elevations up to 1,500 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 28°c, but can tolerate 14 - 32°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -15°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at 0°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 700 - 2,000mm, but tolerates 500 - 3,000mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Succeeds in full sun but is also very tolerant of shade[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Requires a permanently moist or wet soil, it can be grown by the side of ponds etc or in the shallow edges of the pond[
56
Title
Complete Guide to Water Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Muhlberg. H.
Publisher
E. P. Publishing Ltd.
Year
1982
ISBN
0-7158-0789-7
Description
Deals with a wide range of plants for temperate areas (and indoor aquaria) with quite a lot of information on cultivation techniques.
]. Thrives in a turfy loam or in peat[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
]. Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 - 7.5, tolerating 6 - 8[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Originally from Europe, the plant has escaped from cultivation and spread to many areas of the tropics and subtropics. It has been labelled as 'Invasive' in many countries, and has become a major weed of paddy fields and a troublemaker in ponds, lakes and irrigation systems. It frequents paddy crops and warm, shallow, muddy edges of fresh water ponds[
305
Title
Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hear.org/pier/scientificnames/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A very good website detailing weed species that have been introduced into the Pacific Islands.
].
Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[
233
Title
Perennial Garden Plants
Publication
 
Author
Thomas. G. S.
Publisher
J. M. Dent & Sons, London.
Year
1990
ISBN
0 460 86048 8
Description
A concise guide to a wide range of perennials. Lots of cultivation guides, very little on plant uses.
].

Edible Uses

Young stems and leaves[
105
Title
Tanaka's Cyclopedia of Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Tanaka. T. & Nakao S.
Publisher
Keigaku Publishing; Tokyo
Year
1976
ISBN
-
Description
The most comprehensive list of edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
,
145
Title
Forest Flora of Srinagar.
Publication
 
Author
Singh. Dr. G. and Kachroo. Prof. Dr. P.
Publisher
Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh
Year
1976
ISBN
-
Description
A good flora of the western Himalayas but poorly illustrated. Some information on plant uses.
]. A famine food, only used in times of scarcity[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].

The spores are produced in a sporocarp (like a fairly large container) and in allied species this is ground up and mixed with flour etc and used in making bread etc. It is rich in starch[
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.
]. 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.
]. See notes above on 'Known Hazards'[
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

The plant is anti-inflammatory, diuretic, depurative, febrifuge and refrigerant[
147
Title
A Barefoot Doctors Manual.
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Running Press; Philadelphica.
Year
1977
ISBN
0-914294-92-X
Description
A very readable herbal from China, combining some modern methods with traditional chinese methods.
,
178
Title
Chinese Materia Medica.
Publication
 
Author
Stuart. Rev. G. A.
Publisher
Taipei. Southern Materials Centre
Year
1911
ISBN
-
Description
A translation of an ancient Chinese herbal. Fascinating.
,
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].
A juice made from the leaves is diuretic and febrifuge[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].
The plant is also applied externally in the treatment of snakebites and skin injuries, including abscesses[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
,
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
].

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.

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