The Cabombaceae are a family of aquatic, herbaceous flowering plants. A common name for its species is water shield.[3] The family is recognised as distinct in the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group IV system (2016). The family consists of two genera of aquatic plants, Brasenia and Cabomba, totalling six species.[4]

Temporal range: (likely) Mid-CretaceousPresent
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Order: Nymphaeales
Family: Cabombaceae
Rich. ex A.Rich.[1]

The Cabombaceae are all aquatic, living in still or slow-moving waters of temperate and tropical North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Although found on all continents but Antarctica, the plants tend to grow in relatively restricted ranges.[5]

The family has an extensive fossil record from the Cretaceous with plants that exhibit affinities to either the Cabombaceae or Nymphaeaceae occurring in the Early Cretaceous.[5] One such likely Cretaceous member is the genus Pluricarpellatia, found in rocks 115 million years old in what is now Brazil.[2]

The APG system of 1998 included this family in the water lily family Nymphaeaceae, as did the APG II system, of 2003 (optionally). The APG III and APG IV systems of classification separated the family Cabombaceae from the family Nymphaeaceae.[6][7][8] The family is part of the order Nymphaeales, which is one of the most basal flowering plant lineages.


  1. Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009), "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III", Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 161 (2): 105–121, doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x
  2. Stevens, Peter F. "Cabombaceae". APWeb. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
  3. Watson, L.; Dallwitz, M. J. "The families of flowering plants, Cabombaceae". Retrieved 2012-12-01.
  4. Brgaard, Marian (1991). "The genus Cabomba (Cabombaceae) - a taxonomic study". Nordic Journal of Botany. 11 (2): 179–203. doi:10.1111/j.1756-1051.1991.tb01819.x.
  5. Friis, Else Marie; Crane, Peter R.; Pederses, Kaj Raunsgaard (2011). Early Flowers and Angiosperm Evolution. Cambridge University Press. 9781139123921.
  6. Iles, WJD (2014). "Reconstructing the age and historical biogeography of the ancient flowering-plant family Hydatellaceae (Nymphaeales)". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 14 (1): 102. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-14-102. PMC 4030046. PMID 24884487.
  7. Saarela, JM (2007). "Hydatellaceae identified as a new branch near the base of the angiosperm phylogenetic tree". Nature. 446 (7133): 312–315. Bibcode:2007Natur.446..312S. doi:10.1038/nature05612. PMID 17361182. S2CID 4415881.
  8. Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2016). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG IV". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 181 (1): 1–20. doi:10.1111/boj.12385. ISSN 0024-4074.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
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