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carpet-weed, common carpetweed, devil's grip, green carpet-weed, Indian chickweed, mollugine, mollugo verticillé

carpet-weed family

Habit Plants prostrate to ascending, 3–15 (–45) cm. Herbs [shrubs], annual or perennial, glabrous or pubescent, not or slightly succulent.

not glaucous, in whorls of 3–8, basal rosette present, sometimes disappearing as plant matures;

petiole 0.5–4 mm;

blade linear to elliptic, obovate, or broadly spatulate, 5–40 × 0.5–15 mm, base cuneate, apex obtuse to rounded or acute.

alternate, opposite, or whorled, petiolate [or sessile];

blade margins entire;

stipules present or absent.


flowers 2–6 in sessile, axillary umbels.

axillary or terminal, cymose or umbellate, or flowers solitary.


sepals green abaxially, white adaxially, oblong-elliptic, 1.5–2.5 × 0.5–1.2 mm, margins scarious;

stamens 3[–4], alternate with carpels;

pedicel erect-ascending at anthesis, erect to deflexed in fruit, 3–20 mm.

usually bisexual, sessile or pedicellate.



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.


achenes or 3–5-valved loculicidal capsules.


ovoid-ellipsoid, 2.5–3.3 × 1.4–2.2 mm.


15–35, dark or reddish brown, with blackish, parallel, curved ridges on sides, or smooth, 0.5–0.6 × 0.4–0.5 mm.

reniform to lenticular, sometimes strophiolate (with hilar appendages);

endosperm lacking, starch present;

embryo curved.


= 64.

Mollugo verticillata


Phenology Flowering summer–early fall.
Habitat Weedy in fields, gardens, roadsides, moist to dry soils, sand
Elevation 0-3000 m (0-9800 ft)
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Some authors consider Mollugo verticillata a native of the New World tropics that spread northward into subtropical and temperate regions (M. L. Fernald 1950; H. A. Gleason and A. Cronquist 1991). If so, the species apparently spread very rapidly, because herbarium specimens exist from Ohio in 1828, Michigan in 1837, and Maine in 1837. J. Chapman et al. (1974) presented archaeological evidence of pre-Columbian presence of M. verticillata at a site in Tennessee.

Morphology and anatomy of the species are well studied. T. Holm (1911) investigated anisophyly in Mollugo verticillata and stated that the leaves are not “pseudo-verticillate,” as described by some earlier authors, but are truly opposite. M. A. Payne (1933, 1935) conducted morphologic and anatomic analyses of the leaf, stem, root, flower, and seed of the species. Pollen morphology was examined by N. Mitroiu (1971).

Several subspecific taxa have been described for Mollugo verticillata, but these are poorly understood; attempts to subdivide the species in North America for this treatment failed. The species is extremely morphologically variable, especially with regard to leaf shape, overall size, and habit. There seem to be no direct correlations between habitat type and morphology.

Mollugo verticillata possesses intermediate C3–C4 photosynthetic pathway characteristics, such as well- defined bundle-sheaths with numerous C4-like chloroplasts, distinct palisade and spongy parenchyma as in C3 plants, and intermediate light to dark ratios of CO2 evolution, which have made the species of particular interest in studies of the evolution and biochemistry of both photosynthetic pathways (R. A. Kennedy et al. 1980).

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Genera 14, species 125 (2 genera, 4 species in the flora).

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.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

1. Plants glabrous; sepals distinct to base; seeds lacking strophioles (hilar appendages)
1. Plants stellate-pubescent; sepals connate at base; seeds with strophioles
Source FNA vol. 4, p. 510. FNA vol. 4, p. 509. Author: Michael A. Vincent.
Parent taxa Molluginaceae > Mollugo
Sibling taxa
M. cerviana
Subordinate taxa
Glinus, Mollugo
Name authority Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 1: 89. (1753) Rafinesque
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