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This genus is accepted, and its native range is Tropical & S. Africa to Russian Far East and Australia, Brazil to NE. Argentina.


Hydrocharitaceae, David Simpson. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1989

Monoecious, dioecious or hermaphrodite, submerged, freshwater, annual or perennial herbs
Roots simple, adventitious
Stems corm-like, simple or forked or (not in East Africa) rarely elongate, rhizomatous and irregularly branched
Leaves distichous to spirodistichous, radical, often showing marked differentiation into juvenile and mature leaves; juvenile leaves sessile, linear to ovate, obovate or spathulate, sometimes armed with spines or thorn-like projections; mature leaves often petiolate, sheathing at the base; leaf-blade submerged, partly emergent or floating, elliptic to orbicular, acuminate to obtuse, or rounded, cuneate, obtuse, rounded, cordate or involute at base, smooth or scabrid, with up to 15 prominent longitudinal veins connected by cross-veins; margins green, entire, denticulate, undulate or crispate
Stipules 0
Nodal scales 2–10 per leaf
Spathe solitary in leaf-axil, membranous or coriaceous, subsessile or pedunculate, the peduncle often spirally contracting after anthesis in ♀ and ♂ flowers, submergent to emergent, often inflated, narrowly cylindric to ovoid, with wings, ribs, spines, warts or thorns, rarely smooth, 2–6-lobed at the apex, with 1–40 flowers
Male flowers pedicellate, remaining attached to the plant at anthesis; ♀ and hermaphrodite flowers sessile or subsessile Flowers unisexual or bisexual
Sepals 3, narrowly lanceolate to ovate, acute to rounded, often persistent in fruit.
Petals 3, ovate to orbicular or obovate, truncate, rounded or obcordate, usually clawed at base.
Stamens 3–15 or more, in whorls of 3, anthers erect, 4-?theecous, latrorsely dehiscent; filaments often somewhat flattened and fleshy, smooth, papillose or ciliate.
Staminodes (0–)3 or more.
Ovary of 3–20 or more carpels, narrowly cylindric, ellipsoid or ovoid, 1-locular, placentation parietal; ovules numerous, anatropous; perianth-tube narrowly cylindric or cylindric; styles 3–20 or more; stigmas 6–40 or more, 2 per style, linear, papillose.
Nectaries ± 3, located at the base of the styles, lobe-like, ± 1 mm. long
Fruit fleshy, cylindrical to ovoid, opening by decay of the pericarp or by regular dehiscence
Seeds numerous, narrowly cylindric to ellipsoid, sometimes with a short apical projection; testa membranous, densely covered with unicellular hairs.


M. Thulin et al. Flora of Somalia, Vol. 1-4 [updated 2008]

Annual or perennial freshwater herbs, monoecious, dioecious or bisexual; roots simple; stems usually corm-like
Leaves all basal, juvenile and mature ones markedly different; blades wholly or partly submerged, or floating, with usually several longitudinal veins
Spathes solitary in leaf-axils, with 1–40 flowers
Male flowers pedicellate; female and bisexual flowers sessile or subsessile
Tepals 6, the 3 inner petaloid; perianth-tube ± narrowly cylindric. Stamens 3–15 or more, in whorls of 3; staminodes (0–)3 or more, often present in female flowers
Ovary of 3 to many carpels; ovules numerous; stigmas 2 per style, linear
Fruit fleshy, dehiscent or opening by decay of the pericarp
Seeds numerous, densely covered by unicellular hairs.
Some 20 species throughout the warmer regions of the world.
O. ulvifolia (Planchon) Walp., with cuneate leaf-bases, is widespread in tropical Africa and may well occur also in Somalia.

Native to:

Angola, Argentina Northeast, Assam, Bangladesh, Benin, Borneo, Botswana, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, Brazil West-Central, Burkina, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Caprivi Strip, Central African Repu, Chad, China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gulf of Guinea Is., Hainan, India, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jawa, Kenya, Khabarovsk, Korea, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesser Sunda Is., Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaya, Mali, Maluku, Manchuria, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nansei-shoto, Nepal, New Guinea, New South Wales, Niger, Nigeria, Northern Provinces, Northern Territory, Paraguay, Philippines, Primorye, Queensland, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Is., Somalia, South Australia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sulawesi, Sumatera, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Uganda, Victoria, Vietnam, Western Australia, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

Introduced into:

California, Egypt, Iraq, Italy, Louisiana, New Caledonia, New Zealand North, New Zealand South

Ottelia Pers. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Polhill, R. [2269], Tanzania 26332.006
Polhill, R. [2194], Tanzania 32865.000

First published in Syn. Pl. 1: 400 (1805)

Accepted by

  • Govaerts, R.H.A. (2011). World checklist of selected plant families published update Facilitated by the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.


Flora of West Tropical Africa

  • F.T.A. 7: 6.
  • Syn. Pl. 1: 400 (1805)

Flora of Somalia

  • Flora Somalia, Vol 4, (1995) Author: by M. Thulin [updated by M. Thulin 2008]

Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • Cook, Symoens & Urmi-König in Aquat. Bot. 18: 263 (1984)
  • Hepper in F.W.T.A., ed. 2, 3: 7 (1968)
  • Wright in F.T.A. 7: 6 (1897)
  • Syn. Pl. 1: 400 (1805)

Flora of Somalia
Flora of Somalia

Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa

Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
'The Herbarium Catalogue, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet [accessed on Day Month Year]'. Please enter the date on which you consulted the system.

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

Plants and People Africa
Common Names from Plants and People Africa
© Plants and People Africa