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Published In: Species Plantarum 2: 992. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 8/18/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted

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1. Myriophyllum L. (water-milfoil) (Aiken, 1981)

Plants mostly monoecious (dioecious in M. aquaticum), all or mostly submerged aquatics (occasionally stranded on muddy shores), often only the flowering portion emergent. Stem length dependent on depth of water, variously 5 cm to more than 3 m. Leaves whorled, or sometimes a few of them on a given plant opposite or alternate, the submerged ones pinnately dissected into threadlike segments; grading abruptly into reduced, emergent, bracteal leaves subtending the flowers (except in M. aquaticum, with flowers in the axils of unreduced leaves). Inflorescences emergent spikes or appearing as axillary clusters. Flowers in a given inflorescence often of 3 types, the lowermost pistillate, a few median ones perfect, and the upper ones staminate. Sepals 4, often shed early, minute, triangular. Petals 4 (lacking in pistillate flowers), inconspicuous but longer than the sepals, membranous and shed early, translucent, white, or pinkish-, reddish-, or purplish-tinged. Stamens 4 or 8. Ovary with 4 locules. Stigmas 4. Fruits 4-lobed, variously sculptured, eventually splitting into four nutlets.

Certain species of water-milfoil have been used in native American medicine, alone and in combination with other plants as a blood medicine (to improve circulation), and as an emetic. Also, the rhizomes, eaten raw, fried, or roasted are said to be sweet and crunchy and were a much relished food (Moerman, 1998).

Apparent instances of hybridization between species of Myriophyllum, notably M. heterophyllum × M. pinnatum and M. sibiricum × M. spicatum, have been detected from portions of New England and the upper Midwest (Moody and Les, 2002). These morphologically intermediate plants, if found in Missouri, might confound species determinations using the key below.

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