Littorella is a genus of two[1] to three[2] species of aquatic plants. Many plants live their entire lives submersed, and reproduce by stolons, but some are only underwater for part of the year, and flower when they are not underwater.[2]

Littorella uniflora.jpeg
Littorella uniflora
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Plantaginaceae
Tribe: Plantagineae
Genus: Littorella
(L.) Asch.

Littorella uniflora
Littorella americana
Littorella australis


Molecular data show Littorella to be sister to the rest of the genus Plantago. Thus, cladistics would allow it to be considered either as a separate genus or as part of Plantago.[2][3] Some researchers, particularly Rahn in the 1990s, have considered Littorella to be located within Plantago, but this does not seem to be required given the molecular data and a closer look at morphology.[2]


L. uniflora growing at the banks of a sandy pool

Some authors have treated L. uniflora and L. americana to be one species, but molecular data show L. americana to be more closely related to L. australis than it is to L. uniflora, which argues for recognizing three species. Other considerations, such as the wider range and more frequent flowering of L. uniflora, also argue for separate species. It seems likely that the genus originated in Europe and first spread to North America, and from there to South America, with both events happening in the Pleistocene or later.[2]


The European species is found in a wide range of habitats, from arctic to Mediterranean. The North and South American species are found in a more limited range of temperate climates.[2]


  1. ^ a b "Littorella L." Flora of Chile. pp. 125–126.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ronald K. Hoggard; Paul J. Kores; Mia Molvray; Gloria D. Hoggard; David A. Broughton (2003). "Molecular systematics and biogeography of the amphibious genus Littorella (Plantaginaceae)". American Journal of Botany. 90 (3): 429–435. doi:10.3732/ajb.90.3.429. PMID 21659136.
  3. ^ Albach D. C.; Meudt H. M.; Oxelman B. (2005). "Piecing together the "new" Plantaginaceae". American Journal of Botany. 92 (2): 297–315. doi:10.3732/ajb.92.2.297. PMID 21652407.

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