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42. Molluginaceae Rafinesque

Carpet-weed Family

Michael A. Vincent

Herbs [shrubs], annual or perennial, glabrous or pubescent, not or slightly succulent. Leaves alternate, opposite, or whorled, petiolate [or sessile]; blade margins entire; stipules present or absent. Inflorescences axillary or terminal, cymose or umbellate, or flowers solitary. Flowers usually bisexual, sessile or pedicellate. Perianth hypogynous; sepals 4-5, distinct to basally connate; petals absent, or small and of staminodial origin, distinct or basally connate; stamens 2-25, hypogynous, in 1-2 series, sometimes fascicled, distinct or basally connate; filaments filiform; anthers versatile, 4-locular, dehiscence introrse, longitudinal; pollen 3-aperturate; pistils of 1-5 connate carpels; placentation axile or appearing basal in some 1-ovulate carpels; ovules 1-25 per locule; stigmas 1 or 3-5, apical, sessile or borne on styles. Fruits achenes or 3-5-valved loculicidal capsules. Seeds reniform to lenticular, sometimes strophiolate (with hilar appendages); endosperm lacking, starch present; embryo curved.

Genera 14, species 125 (2 genera, 4 species in the flora): North America, West Indies, Central America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia.

Molluginaceae are not of great economic importance. Several species of Glinus and Mollugo are weedy, and occasionally some have been used medicinally or as vegetables (A. L. Bogle 1970b; M. E. Endress and V. Bittrich 1993).

The taxonomic placement of genera of Molluginaceae has been problematic, and they have been considered members of the Aizoaceae, Nyctaginaceae, or Phytolaccaceae. Based on phylogenetic lineages derived from rbcL gene sequences, M. W. Chase et al. (1993) showed that Molluginaceae are distinct from Aizoaceae and a sister group to Nyctaginaceae and Phytolaccaceae. Neither Chase et al. nor J. E. Rodman et al. (1984) found evidence supporting a basal position of Molluginaceae relative to the rest of Centrospermae.


Boetsch, J. R. 2002. The Aizoaceae and Molluginaceae of the southeastern United States. Castanea 67: 42-53. Bogle, A. L. 1970b. The genera of Molluginaceae and Aizoaceae in the southeastern United States. J. Arnold Arbor. 51: 431-462. Endress, M. E. and V. Bittrich. 1993. Molluginaceae. In: K. Kubitzki et al., eds. 1990+. The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants. 4+ vols. Berlin etc. Vol. 2, pp. 419-426. Sharma, H. P. 1963. Studies in the order Centrospermales. II. Vascular anatomy of the flower of certain species of the Molluginaceae. J. Indian Bot. Soc. 42: 19-32.

1 Plants glabrous; sepals distinct to base; seeds lacking strophioles (hilar appendages)   1 Mollugo, p. 510
+ Plants stellate-pubescent; sepals connate at base; seeds with strophioles   2 Glinus, p. 511

Lower Taxa


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