Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
Vascular Plants of California
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Hippuris vulgaris

Higher Taxonomy
Family: PlantaginaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual to shrub, some aquatic. Leaf: basal or cauline, alternate or opposite (whorled), simple, entire to dentate or lobed, venation generally pinnate; stipules 0. Inflorescence: raceme, spike, or flowers axillary in 1--few-flowered clusters; flowers few to many, each subtended by 1 bract. Flower: unisexual or bisexual, radial or bilateral; sepals 4--5, generally fused at base; corolla 4--5-lobed, scarious or not, persistent or not, generally 2-lipped, upper lip generally 2-lobed, lower generally 3-lobed, spur present or not, tube sac-like at base or not; stamens 2 or 4, alternate corolla lobes, epipetalous, staminode 0 or 1--2, anthers opening by 2 slits; ovary superior, [1]2--4-chambered, style 1, stigma lobes 0 or 2. Fruit: generally a capsule, septicidal, loculicidal, circumscissile, or dehiscing by terminal slits or pores.
Genera In Family: +- 110 genera, +- 2000 species: worldwide, especially temperate. Note: Veronicaceae sensu Olmstead et al. Recently treated to include Callitrichaceae, Hippuridaceae, and most non-parasitic California genera of Scrophulariaceae (except Buddleja, Diplacus, Erythranthe, Limosella, Lindernia, Mimetanthe, Mimulus, Myoporum, Scrophularia, Verbascum). California Maurandya moved to Holmgrenanthe and Maurandella. Mohavea moved to Antirrhinum. Limnophila ×ludoviciana Thieret an occasional agricultural weed in rice fields. Hebe ×franciscana (Eastw.) Souster, Hebe speciosa (R. Cunn.) Andersen only cultivated.
eFlora Treatment Author: Margriet Wetherwax, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Robert W. Patterson, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: HippurisView Description 

Common Name: MARE'S-TAIL
Habit: Perennial herb from rhizome, emergent aquatic, glabrous; rooting at nodes; wind-pollinated. Stem: +- erect, unbranched. Leaf: in whorls of 6--12, sessile, linear to elliptic, entire. Inflorescence: flower 1 in upper axils, +- sessile. Flower: inconspicuous, generally bisexual (or staminate proximal to pistillate); calyx a minute rim at ovary top; petals 0; stamen 1, off center on top of ovary; ovary inferior, chamber 1, style 1, off-center, +- = stamen, slender, in groove between anther sacs, +- entirely stigmatic. Fruit: achene or thin-walled drupe.
Etymology: (Greek: horse tail) Note: In Hippuridaceae in TJM (1993); now, along with Callitrichaceae and others, treated in Plantaginaceae.
eFlora Treatment Author: Elizabeth McClintock, C. Barre Hellquist & Robert R. Haynes
Reference: Olmstead & Reeves 1995 Ann Missouri Bot Gard 82:176--192
Hippuris vulgaris L.
Stem: 3--6 dm; distal 1/4--1/2 emergent. Leaf: 1--3.5 cm. Fruit: 2--3 mm. Chromosomes: 2n=32.
Ecology: Margins of shallow ponds, springs, marshy, swampy, or wet disturbed areas; Elevation: < 2700 m. Bioregional Distribution: NW, CaRH, SN, SnFrB, SnBr, SnJt, MP; Distribution Outside California: Arizona, New Mexico, southern South America; much of northern hemisphere. Flowering Time: May--Aug
Jepson eFlora Author: Elizabeth McClintock, C. Barre Hellquist & Robert R. Haynes
Reference: Olmstead & Reeves 1995 Ann Missouri Bot Gard 82:176--192
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Botanical illustration including Hippuris vulgarisbotanical illustration including Hippuris vulgaris

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Citation for this treatment: Elizabeth McClintock, C. Barre Hellquist & Robert R. Haynes 2012, Hippuris vulgaris, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on July 20, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on July 20, 2024.

Hippuris vulgaris
click for image enlargement
©2012 Gary A. Monroe
Hippuris vulgaris
click for image enlargement
©2005 Steve Matson
Hippuris vulgaris
click for image enlargement
©2012 Gary A. Monroe
Hippuris vulgaris
click for image enlargement
©2005 Steve Matson
Hippuris vulgaris
click for image enlargement
©2005 Steve Matson

More photos of Hippuris vulgaris
in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Hippuris vulgaris:
NW, CaRH, SN, SnFrB, SnBr, SnJt, MP
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map of distribution 1

(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurrence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.

View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month Flowering-Fruiting Monthly Counts

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).