Ruppia cirrhosa (Petagna) Grande
  • (Petagna) Grande, Bull. Orto Bot. Regia Univ. Napoli 5: 58 (1918)
  • spiral tasselweed

This taxon is accepted by WCS higher taxonomy

General Description

Rhizomes very slender to slender. Stems up to 0.6 m, very slender, terete, richly branched; nodal glands absent. Submerged leaves 45-120(-175) x (0.2-)0.4-1.4 mm, 70-250(-500) times as long as wide, bright green or dark green, filiform to linear, elliptical in cross-section, sessile, obtuse to acute at the apex, the margin denticulate at the leaf apex, otherwise entire and plane; midrib bordered on each side by one large or several smaller air channels, the air channels sometimes absent from the younger leaves, lateral veins absent. Floating leaves absent. Leaf sheaths 10-25 mm, open and convolute, the side from which the leaf arises green, the opposite side hyaline; ligule absent; sheaths of involucral leaves dilated, hyaline when young, becoming brown with age. Turions absent. Inflorescences with 2 flowers c. 1.5 mm apart; peduncles 40-300(-770) mm, (1.6-)2-10(-30) times as long as the longest carpel stalk when the fruit is mature, very slender, terete, sinuous or spirally coiled. Flowers with 2-8 carpels, the carpels initially with a very short stalk so that they appear sessile at anthesis, the stalks then elongating after fertilisation, the stalk of mature fruits 4-32 mm (the longest on each peduncle being 14-32 mm), very slender, terete, straight. Fruits 2.7-3.4 x (1.2-) 1.4-1.9 mm, pyriform, symmetrical or slightly asymmetrical about the longitudinal axis, brown or grey-brown with raised, more or less elongated, wine-red tubercles on the surface; beak 0.5-0.95 mm, usually subapical or apical, occasionally ventral, straight.

Similar to R. maritima but leaf tips blunt or rounded and flowers on long, slender, spirally coiled peduncles, and usually found in more saline, deeper water. Mostly Dec.-Feb.


Ruppia cirrhosa grows on soft sediments in the brackish water of ditches, ponds, coastal lagoons, tidal inlets and in lakes near the sea. Unlike R. maritima, it is rarely found in very shallow water. It favours more brackish conditions than R. maritima and is, for example, dominant in Loch an-t-Saile, Outer Hebrides, where the conductivity measured by Spence, Alien & Fraser (1979) was 31,800 µs cm-1 (compared to 43,900 µs cm-1 for seawater). It is a rarer plant than R. maritima, being most frequent in south-east England but also occurring at scattered localities elsewhere in Britain and Ireland. It extends north to the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland.


Brackish, lagoons and coastal pools of moderate salinity.


Near Gariep Mouth, SW Cape to Port Elizabeth, cosmopolitan.

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Africa Northern Africa Algeria
  • Egypt
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • Tunisia
  • Southern Africa Cape Provinces
  • KwaZulu-Natal
  • Namibia
  • Asia-Temperate Caucasus North Caucasus
  • Transcaucasus
  • Eastern Asia Japan
  • Korea
  • Middle Asia Kazakhstan
  • Russian Far East Kamchatka
  • Khabarovsk
  • Sakhalin
  • Siberia Altay
  • Western Asia Cyprus
  • Iran
  • Palestine
  • Sinai
  • Turkey
  • Asia-Tropical Indian Subcontinent India
  • Malesia Jawa
  • Lesser Sunda Is.
  • Europe Eastern Europe Baltic States
  • Belarus
  • Central European Russia
  • East European Russia
  • Krym
  • Northwest European Russia
  • South European Russia
  • Ukraine
  • Middle Europe Belgium
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Northern Europe Denmark
  • Finland
  • Great Britain
  • Ireland
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Southeastern Europe Albania
  • Bulgaria
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Kriti
  • Sicilia
  • Yugoslavia
  • Southwestern Europe Baleares
  • Corse
  • France
  • Portugal
  • Sardegna
  • Spain
  • Northern America North-Central U.S.A. Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Northeastern U.S.A. Michigan
  • Ohio
  • Northwestern U.S.A. Colorado
  • Montana
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Wyoming
  • South-Central U.S.A. New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Southwestern U.S.A. Arizona
  • California
  • Nevada
  • Utah
  • Subarctic America Alaska
  • Aleutian Is.
  • Northwest Territories
  • Yukon
  • Western Canada Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • Saskatchewan
  • Southern America Caribbean Cayman Is.
  • Jamaica
  • Puerto Rico
  • Southern South America Argentina Northeast
  • Argentina Northwest

Common Names

spiral tasselweed


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  • 24 USDA, NRCS (2005- continuously updated). Natural Resources Conservation Services Plant Database.

 Information From

Strelitzia 30
Strelitzia 30: Plants of the Greater Cape Floristic Region volume 2: The Extra Cape Flora. Edited by D.A. Snijman (2013)
  • A All Rights Reserved
  • B
WCS higher taxonomy
  • C All Rights Reserved
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
WCSP 2014. 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; Retrieved 2011 onwards
  • D See You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement.