Damasonium polyspermum 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Liliopsida Alismatales Alismataceae

Scientific Name: Damasonium polyspermum Coss.
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Starfruit, Water star
French Damasonie Étoilée, Etoile d’Eau, Flûteau Étoilé
Spanish Damasoni
Damasonium alisma subsp. polyspermum (Coss.) Maire
Damasonium minimum Lange
Taxonomic Source(s): Uotila, P. 2009. Alismataceae. Euro+Med Plantbase - the information resource for Euro-Mediterranean plant diversity. Available at:
Taxonomic Notes: Tutin et al. (1964-1980) recognise only one variable species within the genus Damasonium. However, several subspecies were described and recently elevated to the rank of species by several authors (Vuille 1987, Birkinshaw 1994, Rich and Nichols-Vuille 2001). The taxonomic treatment by Vuille (1987) and Rich and Nichols-Vuille (2001) is accepted here and D. polyspermum is considered here as a species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B2ab(iii,iv) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-12-02
Assessor(s): de Bélair, G., Daoud-Bouattour, A., Gammar-Ghrabi, Z., Limam-Ben Saad, S. & Muller, S.D.
Reviewer(s): Foggi, B., Bazos, I., García Murillo, P., Grillas, P., Lansdown, R. & Abeli, T.
Damasonium polyspermum has an area of occupancy of less than 2,000 km² and, apart from the Spanish localities, the species' range is severely fragmented. The quality of its habitat is declining throughout the range and subpopulations as well as locations have been lost in the past. It is therefore listed as Vulnerable.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Damasonium polyspermum is a Mediterranean endemic that is found in the Iberian Peninsula, France, Italy, Croatia, Syria, Morocco, Algeria and Libya. In Greece, all material that has been found has been identified as D. bourgaei and therefore the presence of D. polyspermum has not been confirmed. In Italy, D. polyspermum was reported only for Sicily (Conti et al. 2005).
On the Iberian Peninsula, D. polyspermum is more continental than D. bourgaei. The main populations are in central Spain - it occurs in the coastal Mediterranean strip but is less frequent there. It is present at the western coast of Portugal (Beira Litoral). In France, it is found from Biterrois to Hérault in Var, Rhône valley.
In Morocco, the species is present in Tanger, Loukkos and Ito; Bou Jerirt; vicinity of the Sidi-Ali-ou-Mohand lake, Timahdit in the Middle Atlas, Rommani in the region of the Zaers. In Algeria, it occurs in the high Plateaux of the northwest and the Oran mountains, and in Libya in El-Merj.
In the Mediterranean region, the area of occupancy is estimated to be less than 2,000 km2.
Countries occurrence:
Algeria; Croatia; France (France (mainland)); Italy (Sicilia); Libya; Morocco; Portugal (Portugal (mainland)); Spain (Spain (mainland)); Syrian Arab Republic
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:500-2000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Damasonium polyspermum is relatively rare over its entire distribution area. The populations face a decline due to the deterioration of the habitat. The species is common in the west extremity of the Mediterranean (Spain and Morocco) and becomes rare eastwards (Italy, Croatia).
- France: it was known from 10 sites distributed between the departments of Hérault, Gard, Bouches-du-Rhône and Var. Eight populations disappeared or have not been reviewed in Sauvian (plateau of Vendres), Portiragnes/Vias (Roque-Haute), Agde (pools of Riguaud), Redessan, Jonquières, Manduel (ponds of Jonquières, Campuget and Redessan), Bellegarde and the Barben (pool of the Estagnolet); only seven sites are confirmed presently;
- Italy: several localities but only one has been confirmed after 1970 at Isola Grande (Giardina et al. 2007);
- Spain: the presence of the species is noted in 20 provinces in the centre and the north of the country (between 50 and 100 sites) and  in the south of the country (approximately 20 sites);
- Portugal: only one site harbours this species;
- Morocco: there is no data on the size of the populations of this species that is considered rare;
- Algeria: very rare, signalled solely in the high plateaus of Algier and Oran (Sersou);
- Libya: only present in the El-Merj area at the Mediterranean coastline east of Benghazi.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Damasonium polyspermum is an annual plant (Therophyte), or occasionally perennial, herbaceous amphibious Helophyte occurring in muddy or gravel margins of shallow pools and lakes with seasonally fluctuating water levels. It prefers soft or weakly brackish waters, is indifferent to the nature of soil and can support slightly saline conditions. Its flowering is generally from April to June; the maturation and the dissemination of the seeds take place in summer.
The species is characteristic of one of the sub-types of Mediterranean temporary pools as indicated in the Habitats Directive.
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is declining over its entire distribution area due to habitat destruction and degradation. The main threat is the change of hydrological regimes, ranging from drainage of depressions for agricultural purposes to stabilising the water levels of temporary water bodies in order to use them as reservoirs. Overgrazing, urbanization and alien-weed competition, for example Azolla filiculoides, are furthermore leading to population declines.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species is protected at national level in France and populations are included in the following protected areas: Parc naturel régional de Camargue, Réserve de la Tour du Valat, Lanau (Bouches-du-Rhône), pools in central Var (management plan in progress). Fuerthermore,  ex situ conservation of seeds is carried out by the Conservatoire Botanique National de Porquerolles. It is Critically Endangered in Sicily and Italy (Conti et al. 1997, Scoppola and Spampinato 2005). It is classified as Data Deficient in the Croatian Red Data Book.
In North Africa, there are no conservation measures in place.

It is necessary to confirm the identity of Damasonium populations in order to gather information about the species presence and distribution. Further proposed measures are: legal protection of the species, monitoring of existent populations and search of new localities, evaluation of population size, monitoring of population dynamics, application of legal conservation measures, to study the biology of the species and to raise public awareness.

Classifications [top]

5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.5. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.8. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.15. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Lakes and Flats
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.17. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Marshes/Pools
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications
5. Law & policy -> 5.1. Legislation -> 5.1.1. International level
5. Law & policy -> 5.1. Legislation -> 5.1.2. National level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.2. Small-holder farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.1. Nomadic grazing
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.2. Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.1. Roads & railroads
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.3. Other ecosystem modifications
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Azolla filiculoides ]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.2. Competition

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Association Tela Botanica. 2000-2008. Le reseau de la botanique francophone. Montpellier Available at:

Birkinshaw, C.A. 1994. Aspects of the ecology and conservation of Damasonium alisma Miller in western Europe. Watsonia 20: 33-39.

Bonnier, G. 1990. La Grande Flore en couleurs : France, Suisse, Belgique et pays voisins. Ed. Belin, Paris.

Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (Real Jardin Botanico) and Fundación Biodiversidad (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente). 2009. Anthos. Sistema de informacion sobre las plantas de España. Madrid Available at:

Conti, F., Abbate, G., Alessandrini, A. and Blasi, C. 2005. An Annotated Checklist of Italian Vascular Flora. Palombi Editori, Rome.

Conti, F., Manzi, A. and Pedrotti, F. 1997. Liste Rosse Regionali delle Piante d'Italia. WWF Italia and Società Botanica Italiana, Camerino, Italy.

Cuénod, A. 1954. Flore analytique et synoptique de la Tunisie (Cryptogames Vasculaires, Gymnospermes et Monocotylédones). Office de l'expérimentation et de la vulgarisation agricole de Tunisie, Tunis.

Durand, E. and Baratte, G. 1910. Flora Libycae Prodromus ou Catalogue Raisonné des Plantes de Tripolitaine. Imprimerie Romet, Geneva.

Giardina, G., Raimondo, F.M. and Spadaro, V. 2007. A catalogue of plants growing in Sicily. Bocconea 20: 3-583.

Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). 2000-2008. Global Biodiversity Information Facility. Copenhagen Available at:

IUCN. 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2010.2). Available at: (Accessed: 29 June 2010).

Maire, R. 1952-1987. Flore de l'Afrique du Nord (Maroc, Algérie, Tunisie, Tripolitaine, Cyrénaïque et Sahara). Lechevalier, Paris.

Mouterde, P. 1966. Nouvelle Flore du Liban et de la Syrie. Editions de l'Impr. catholique, Beirut.

Plantlife International. 2007. Damasonium alisma Miller. Salisbury Available at:

Quézel, P. and Santa, S. 1962-1963. Nouvelle Flore de l'Algérie et des Régions Désertiques Méridionales. CNRS, Paris.

Rich, T.C.G. and Nichols-Vuille, F.L. 2001. Taxonomy and distribution of European Damasonium (Alismataceae). Edinburgh Journal of Botany 58: 45-55.

Scoppola, A. and Spampinato, G. 2005. Atlante delle specie a rischio di estinzione. In: A. Scoppola and C. Blasi (eds), Stato delle conoscenze sulla flora vascolare d'Italia, Palombi Editori, Roma.

Tutin, T.G., Heywood, V.H., Burges, N.A., Valentine, D.H., Walters, S.M. and Webb, D.A. (eds). 1964–1980. Flora Europaea. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Valdés, B., Rejdali, M., Achhal El Kadmiri, A., Jury, J.L. and Montserrat, J.M. (eds). 2002. Checklist of Vascular Plants of North Morocco with Identification Keys. Biblioteca de Ciencias, Madrid.

Valdés, B., Talavera, S. and Fernandez-Galiano, E. (eds). 1987. Flora Vascular de Andalucía Occidental. Ketrès Editoria, Barcelona.

Vuille, F.L. 1987. Reproductive biology of the genus Damasonium (Alismataceae). Plant Systematics and Evolution 157: 63-71.

Citation: de Bélair, G., Daoud-Bouattour, A., Gammar-Ghrabi, Z., Limam-Ben Saad, S. & Muller, S.D. 2010. Damasonium polyspermum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T164427A5863531. . Downloaded on 22 May 2018.
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