Scapigerous aquatic or marsh herbs, with mostly linear radical leaves, sheathing below and without a distinct ligule. Inflorescence raceme or spike. Flowers small, hermaphrodite or unisexual, actinomorphic or slightly oblique, 2-3-merous, bractless, protogynous. Perianth segments 6, in 2 series, herbaceous, greenish, whitish or purplish. Stamens (4- ) 6 with very short filaments (almost sessile), hypogynous. Carpels (4- ) 6, sometimes 3 sterile, free or connate, superior, each I-celled with 1, basal anatropous ovule; style absent or short; stigma papillose or pencillate. Fruit indehiscent or tardily dehiscent, semicomposite, apparently like a capsule but carpels often separating on maturity with 1 seed in each; seed erect, exalbuminous with straight embryo.
A small family of 4 genera and about 20 species, widely distributed, chiefly in the temperate and cold regions of the world. It is represented by only 1 genus with 2 species in West Pakistan.
This family closely resembles the unigeneric Scheuchzeriaceae, which has ligulate leaves, carpels 2-ovuled, slightly united at the base and divaricating in fruit.
Juncaginaceae was published earlier (Richard, Demons. Bot. 9. 1808) than Scheuchzericceae (Rudolphi, Syst. Orb. Veg. 28. 1830), and if the two are com¬bined the former name should be adopted. However, this rule is not to be followed if it is combined with Potamogetonaceae (Dumort., An. Fam. Pl. 50:61. 1829) as recommended in the Code (217.1966).
The family Juncaginaceae has been given varied treatments in our local Floras. Hooker f. (Fl. Brit. Ind. 6:563. 1893) merged it with Naiadaceae, Burkill (List of Flowering Plants of Baluch. (reprint ed.) 101. 1956) included it under Alismataceae (Alismaceae) and others included it under Scheuchzeriaceae. Hutchinson (Brit. Flowering Plants, 249-250. 1948) has drawn very close affinity of Scheuchzeriaceae with Alismataceae, while remarking “that the family Juncaginaceae seems to be closely connected with the tribe Nartheceae, an early group of Liliaceae.” He later included Scheuchzeriaceae under the order Alismatales and Juncaginaceae under a separate order Juncaginales (Fam. Fl. Pl. ed. 2:544 and 548. 1959), while Benson (Pl. Classif. 375. 1957) merged Scheuchzeriaceae in Juncaginaceae and placed it under the order Juncaginales. However, both have drawn its close affinity with Lilaeaceae. It is, therefore, proper that the family Juncaginaceae should be treated separately.
Acknowledgement: We are grateful to the United States Department of Agriculture for financing this research under P.L. 480. Thanks are also due to Mr. B.L. Burtt for his help, guidance and citing the specimen (marked with an aste¬risk above) from our area, present at Edinburgh.