1. Mollugo Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 89. 1753; Gen. Pl. ed. 5, 39. 1754.
Carpet-weed [from Galium mollugo, probably because of similarity of whorled leaves; Latin mollis, soft or pliant]
Herbs, annual [perennial], glabrous. Stems prostrate to erect, branching from base. Leaves whorled, opposite, or alternate; basal leaves usually largest, cauline leaves gradually reduced distally; stipules absent or rudimentary. Inflorescences axillary or terminal, reduced umbellate or cymose. Flowers pedicellate; sepals persistent, 5, distinct, not stellate-pubescent; petals absent; stamens 3-5, alternate with the sepals or carpels, basally connate by a small hypogynous ring; pistils 3-5-locular; ovules 5-15 per locule; styles 3-5, distinct. Fruits capsular, 3-valved. Seeds: flattened laterally, reniform, smooth or reticulate to ribbed, strophioles absent. x = 9.
Species 35 (2 in the flora): North America, West Indies, Central America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia.
Although Mollugo has little economic value, some species have been used medicinally or as vegetables. Mollugo spergula, which has been used in India as a green vegetable, contains bitter triterpenoid saponins and sometimes is used as a source of antiseptics (A. K. Barua et al. 1989) and has been used also as a potherb (A. K. Tripathi 1988). Antifungal compounds have been isolated from Mollugo pentaphylla (M. Hamburger et al. 1989).
The taxonomy of species of Mollugo is in great disarray, and the genus is in need of a thorough worldwide revision.
C. F. Reed (1964), in a study of ore-pile flora, listed Mollugo gracillima Andersson and M. nudicaulis Lamarck from Maryland. The former was based on a misidentified specimen of M. verticillata, while the latter was correctly identified, representing the only known report of the species in North America.