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199. Cymodoceaceae Norman Taylor

Manatee-grass Family

Robert R. Haynes

Herbs, perennial, rhizomatous, caulescent; turions absent. Leaves submersed, alternate or nearly opposite, sessile; sheath persisting longer than blade, leaving circular scar when shed, not ligulate, auriculate, lobes not scarious; blade linear; intravaginal squamules scales, more than 2. Inflorescences axillary or terminal, solitary or cymes, without spathe, sessile or pedunculate; peduncle, when present, not elongating following fertilization, not spiraling. Flowers uniasexual, staminate and pistillate on separate plants; subtending bracts absent; perianth absent. Staminate flowers: stamens 2, in 1 series; anthers adaxially connate, dehiscing vertically; pollen linear. Pistillate flowers: pistils 2, distinct, not stipitate; ovules pendulous, orthotropous. Fruits achenelike or drupaceous. Seeds 1; embryo straight.

Genera 5, species 16 (2 genera, 2 species in the flora): widespread in warm oceanic waters worldwide.

Cymodoceaceae comprise one of three families of flowering plants in North America that inhabit oceanic waters. Individuals of this family form carpetlike vegetation over sandy to muddy substrates of the tropical and subtropical waters along the southern Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts of the United States.


Godfrey, R. K. and J. W. Wooten. 1979. Aquatic and Wetland Plants of the Southeastern United States. Monocotyledons. Athens, Ga. Hartog, C. den. 1970. The Sea-grasses of the World. Amsterdam. Haynes, R. R. and L. B. Holm-Nielsen. 1985. A generic treatment of the Alismatidae in the Neotropics. Acta Amazon. 15(suppl.): 153--193. Johnson, E. A. and S. L. Williams. 1982. Sexual reproduction in seagrasses: Reports for five Caribbean species with details for Halodule wrightii Aschers., and Syringodium filiforme Kutz. Caribbean J. Sci. Math. 18: 61--70.

1 Leaves flattened; flowers solitary; styles not divided into stigmas; anthers attached at different levels on axis   1 Halodule
+ Leaves terete or semi-terete; flowers in cymes; styles divided into 2 stigmas; anthers attached at same point on axis   2 Syringodium

Lower Taxa


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