Annual or perennial, rhizomatous, glabrous herbs, emergent or with floating leaves, in fresh or brackish waters. Roots fibrous or tuberous. Rhizomes slender to stout. Leaves rosulate, linear, 1-severalveined, dorsiventrally flattened, terete, or unifacial, with open, sheathing base; sheath adnate to the blade, often remaining as fibrous cluster after the leaves have decayed, with 2 auricles; intravaginal scales present, membranous. Inflorescences ebracteate, terminal spikes or spikelike racemes, scapose or not; flowers all hermaphrodite, or pistillate at the base, hermaphrodite in the middle, and staminate (or lacking) distally on the inflorescence, trimerous, dimerous, or monomerous. Perfect and pistillate flowers hypogynous. Perianth mostly present, rarely absent; segments 6 or 1, in 1 or 2 whorls, when in 1 whorl, then with 1 segment adnate to anther, when in 2 whorls, then each whorl with 3 free segments; stamens antetepalous, 0, 1, 4, or 6, sessile or subsessile, when 4 or 6 in 2 whorls of2 or 3; anthers 2-thecate, dehiscing by longitudinal slits. Carpels 0,1,3, or 6, when 3 or 6, then coherent or weakly connate but separating when mature, or rarely apocarpous; locules of same number as carpels; stigma mostly sessile or on a short style, but the basal pistillate mostly sessile or on a short style, but the basal pistillate flowers of Lilaea with an elongate, filiform style; ovules 1-few per locule, erect, anatropous with basal placentation, in Maundia atropous and attached apically. Fruits achenes, rarely with hooks or horns at apex. Seeds solitary, exalbuminous; embryo straight.
A family of subcosmopolitan distribution with 4 genera and about 12 species.
All Juncaginaceae are bound to aquatic habitats. They grow in fresh or salt marshes, on sea shores or submersed in lakes and rivers. Whereas Triglochin, Tetroncium, and Maundia are marsh plants, Lilaea is an amphiphyte, living part of the life cycle submersed in freshwater lakes, pools, or small streams.
The Juncaginaceae are nearly cosmopolitan in cold and temperate regions of all vegetational zones. Lilaea, Tetroncium, and Maundia are all basically Southern Hemispherical, although Lilaea reaches as far north as southern Canada. Tetroncium is found only in Patagonia and surrounding islands, and Maundia is restricted to Australia. Triglochin is distributed over most regions of the world, and, like the family, is subcosmopolitan. It is likely that the family has its origin in Gondwana (Raven and Axelrod 1974).
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