Zostera marina, from Lindman (1917-1926)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Alismatales
Family: Zosteraceae

Zosteraceae (one of the four seagrasses families, Kubitzki ed. 1998) is a family of marine perennial flowering plants found in temperate and subtropical coastal waters, with the highest diversity located around Korea and Japan. Most seagrasses complete their entire life cycle under water,[3] having filamentous pollen especially adapted to dispersion in an aquatic environment and ribbon-like leaves that lack stomata. Seagrasses are herbaceous and have prominent creeping rhizomes. A distinctive characteristic of the family is the presence of characteristic retinacules, which are present in all species except members of Zostera subgenus Zostera.

Zosteraceae has long been accepted by taxonomists as monophyletic. The APG II system of 2003 recognizes this family and places it in the monocot order Alismatales. The family contains approximately fourteen species divided between two genera, Phyllospadix and Zostera totalling 22 known species (Christenhusz & Byng 2016 [4]). Zostera contains three subgenera: Heterozostera (formerly considered a separate genus [5]), Zostera and Zosterella.[6] Zosteraceae is closely related to Potamogetonaceae, a family of freshwater aquatics.

Zosteraceae is a conserved name.


Marine grasses families: Zosteraceae, Cymodoceaceae, Ruppiaceae and Posidoniaceae. Related families: Potamogetonaceae and (and sometimes including) Zannichelliaceae.

Families and Genera crosses (Sea grasses)
Kubitzki (ed. 1998[7]) Watson & Dallwitz (delta-intkey)[8] data.kew[9] APWeb (mobot.org)[10]
1. Zostera L. Zostera Zostera L. Zostera L. (including Heterozostera den Hartog, Macrozostera Tomlinson & Posluzny, Nanozostera Tomlinson & Posluzny, Zosterella J. K. Small)
2. Heterozostera den Hartog Heterozostera Heterozostera (Setch.) Hartog (in Zostera)
3. Phyllospadix Hook. Phyllospadix Phyllospadix Hook. Phyllospadix J. D. Hooker
1. Syringodium Kütz Syringodium Syringodium Kutz. (in Cymodocea)
2. Halodule Endl. Halodule Halodule Endl. Halodule Endlicher
3. Cymodocea König Cymodocea Cymodocea K.Koenig (including Phycoschoenus (Asch.) Nakai ) Cymodocea König (including Amphibolis Agardh ?, Syringodium Kütz. ?, Thalassodendron den Hartog ?)
4. Amphibolis Agardh Amphibolis Amphibolis C.Agardh (including Pectinella J.M.Black) (in Cymodocea)
5. Thalassodendron de Hartog (name not found) Thalassodendron Hartog (in Cymodocea)
Ruppia L. Ruppia (in Ruppia L. in Potamogetonaceae) Ruppia L.
Posidonia König Posidonia Posidonia K.Koenig Posidonia König
Families and Genera crosses (Potamogetonaceae)
Kubitzki (ed. 1998[11]) Watson & Dallwitz (delta-intkey)[12] data.kew[13] APWeb (mobot.org)[14]
1. Potamogeton L. Potamogeton Potamogeton L. Potamogeton L. (including Coleogeton Les & Haynes, Stuckenia Börner)
2. Groenlandia J. Gray Groenlandia Groenlandia J.Gay Groenlandia J. Gay
(in Ruppia in Ruppiaceae) (in Ruppia in Ruppiaceae) Ruppia L. (in Ruppia in Ruppiaceae)
(in Althenia: Zannichelliaceae and Lepilaena: Zannichelliaceae) (in Althenia: Zannichelliaceae and Lepilaena: Zannichelliaceae) (in Althenia F.Petit: Zannichelliaceae and Lepilaena J.L.Drumm. ex Harv.:Zannichelliaceae) Althenia Petit (including Lepilaena Harvey)
(in Pseudalthenia including Vleisia: Zannichelliaceae) (in Pseudalthenia: Zannichelliaceae and Vleisia: Zannichelliaceae) (Pseudalthenia not found, Vleisia Toml. & Posl.: Zannichelliaceae) Pseudalthenia Nakai (including Vleisia Tomlinson & Posluszny)
(in Zannichellia L.: Zannichelliaceae) (in Zannichellia: Zannichelliaceae) (in Zannichellia L.: Zannichelliaceae) Zannichellia L.
1. Zannichellia L. Zannichellia Zannichellia L. (in Zannichellia L.: Potamogetonaceae)
2. Pseudalthenia Nakai (including Vleisia) Pseudalthenia (excluding Vleisia) (name not found) (in Pseudalthenia: Potamogetonaceae)
3. Althenia Petit (excluding Lepilaena Drumm. ex. Harv.) Althenia (excluding Lepilaena) Althenia F.Petit (excluding Lepilaena J.L.Drumm. ex Harv.) Althenia Petit (including Lepilaena Harvey)
4. Lepilaena Drumm. ex. Harv. Lepilaena Lepilaena J.L.Drumm. ex Harv. (in Althenia Petit)
(in Pseudalthenia) Vleisia Vleisia Toml. & Posl. (in Pseudalthenia: Potamogetonaceae)


  1. Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III" (PDF). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 161 (2): 105–121. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x. Retrieved 2013-07-06.
  2. Dumortier (1829). Analyse des Familles de Plantes : avec l'indication des principaux genres qui s'y rattachent. Tournay.
  3. Ackerman, JD (1997). "Submarine pollination in the marine angiosperm Zostera marina (Zosteraceae) I: The influence of floral morphology on fluid flow". American Journal of Botany. Botanical Society of America. 84 (8): 1099–1109. doi:10.2307/2446153. JSTOR 2446153. Retrieved 2007-06-02.
  4. Christenhusz, M. J. M. & Byng, J. W. (2016). "The number of known plants species in the world and its annual increase". Phytotaxa. Magnolia Press. 261 (3): 201–217. doi:10.11646/phytotaxa.261.3.1.
  5. Jacobs, S.W.L.; Lee, D.H. (2009). "New combinations in Zostera (Zosteraceae)". Telopea. 12: 419–423.
  6. Les, D.H., Moody, M.L., Jacob, S.W.L. and Bayer, R.J. (2002). "Systematics of Seagrasses (Zosteraceae) in Australia and New Zealand" (abstract). Systematic Botany. 27 (3): 468–484. doi:10.1043/0363-6445-27.3.468.
  7. Kubitzki (ed.) 1998. The families and genera of vascular plants, vol 4, Monocotyledons: Alismatanae and Commelinanae (except Gramineae). Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
  8. Watson & Dallwitz. Zosteraceae. The families of flowering plants. http://delta-intkey.com/angio/www/zosterac.htm
  9. Vascular Plant Families and Genera. List of genera in family CYMODOCEACEAE (accessed 2016-06-02) http://data.kew.org/cgi-bin/vpfg1992/genlist.pl?CYMODOCEACEAE
  10. VASCULAR PLANT FAMILIES and GENERA. List of Genera in CYMODOCEACEAE (accessed 2016-06-02) http://www.mobot.org/mobot/research/apweb/orders/alismatalesweb.htm#Cymodoceaceael
  11. Kubitzki (ed.) 1998. The families and genera of vascular plants, vol 4, Monocotyledons: Alismatanae and Commelinanae (except Gramineae). Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
  12. Watson & Dallwitz. Potamogetonaceae. The families of flowering plants. http://delta-intkey.com/angio/www/potamoge.htm
  13. Vascular Plant Families and Genera. List of genera in family POTAMOGETONACEAE (accessed 2016-06-02) http://data.kew.org/cgi-bin/vpfg1992/genlist.pl?POTAMOGETONACEAE
  14. VASCULAR PLANT FAMILIES and GENERA. List of Genera in POTAMOGETONACEAE (accessed 2016-06-02) http://www.mobot.org/mobot/research/apweb/orders/alismatalesweb.htm#Potamogetonaceae

Further reading

Waycott, M, McMahon, K, Lavery, P 2014, A Guide to Southern Temperate Seagrasses, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne, ISBN 9781486300150

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