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Quillwort

From Academic Kids

Quillwort
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Lycopodiophyta
Class:Isoetopsida
Order:Isoetales
Family:Isoetaceae
Genus:Isoetes
Species

See text

Quillworts are plants of the genus Isoetes in the class Isoetopsida and order Isoetales. The order Isoetales is sometimes placed in the class Isoetopsida, sometimes in the Selaginellopsida or Lycopsida. They are considered "fern allies". There are about 140-150 species, with a cosmopolitan distribution but often scarce to rare. Some botanists split the genus, separating two South American species into the genus Stylites.

Quillworts are mostly aquatic or semi-aquatic in clear ponds and slow-moving streams, though several (e.g. I. histrix, I. nuttallii) grow on wet ground that dries out in the summer. Quillwort leaves are hollow and quill-like, arising from a central corm. Each leaf is narrow, 2-20 cm long (exceptionally up to 100 cm) and 0.5-3 mm wide; they can be either evergreen, winter deciduous, or dry-season deciduous. They broaden to a swollen base up to 5 mm wide where they attach in clusters to a bulb-like, underground rhizome characteristic of most quillwort species, though a few (e.g. I. tegetiformans) form spreading mats. This swollen base also contains male and female sproangia, protected by a thin, transparent covering (velum), which is used diagnostically to help identify quillwort species. They are heterosporous. Quillwort species are very difficult to distinguish by general appearance. The best way to identify them is by examing the megaspores under a microscope.

Selected species

Many species, such as the Louisiana Quillwort and the Mat-forming Quillwort, are Endangered species.

Quillworts are considered by some to be the last remnant of the fossil tree Lepidodendron with which they share some unusual features including the development of both wood and bark, a modified shoot system acting as roots, bipolar growth, and an upright stance.

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