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ELATINACEAE

WATERWORT FAMILY

Gordon C. Tucker

Annual, perennial herb, in or near water; roots fibrous, from a taproot or not, generally from lower leaf axils as well
Stem generally soft
Leaves simple, opposite, ± 4-ranked; stipules scarious
Inflorescence: flowers axillary or terminal, solitary or clustered
Flowers small, inconspicuous, radial, bisexual; sepals and petals generally free, 3–5, equal in number; ovary spheric, styles 3–5, very short
Fruit: capsule, septicidal, ± spheric, ovoid, or depressed-ovoid, walls thin; chambers 2–5, each several–many-seeded
Seed very small; surface net-like or glossy
Genera in family: 2 genera, 50 species: ± worldwide
Reference: [Tucker 1986 J Arnold Arbor 67:471–483]

ELATINE

WATERWORT

Annual, short-lived perennial herb, glabrous
Stem erect underwater, ± prostrate on wet ground, branched or not; base not woody
Leaves opposite, ± 4-ranked; petiole < 1/3 blade, flat, ± blade-like; blades narrowly elliptic to ± round, ± entire, bases wedge-shaped to ± rounded, tips rounded
Inflorescence: flowers 1(2) per node, 0–1 per upper leaf axil
Flower: sepals 3–4, widely elliptic, membranous, very pale green; petals generally as many as and ± = sepals, widely elliptic, membranous, pale greenish white; stamens 3, 6, 8, rarely 1, filaments ± 1/2 X to ± = petals, anthers widely ovoid; styles 3–4
Fruit ± spheric or depressed-ovoid; chambers 3–4, each 3–15- seeded; pedicel generally ± 0
Seeds ± visible through fruit wall, elliptic, straight or curved, brown to yellowish brown; surface net-like
Species in genus: ± 25 species: worldwide
Etymology: (Greek: fir tree, from a Eur sp. that suggests such a plant in miniature)
At least 20X magnification needed for pits on seeds.

Native

E. heterandra H. Mason


Stem decumbent, 2–5 cm
Leaf obovate to widely oblong-elliptic; petiole ± 1/4 blade
Inflorescence: flowers 1 per node
Flower: sepals 2; petals 3, ovate; stamens 6, rarely 1 (if 3, then opposite petals)
Fruit: chambers 3
Seed widely elliptic, curved 15–30°; pits 12–16 per row, wider than long
Ecology: Pond edges
Elevation: 1000–1500 m.
Bioregional distribution: North Coast Ranges, Sierra Nevada.

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