Nearly worldwide, temperate and tropical regions.
Spore germination in the family occurs after rupture of the sporocarp wall allows the sporocarp contents to be hydrated. A gelatinous structure emerges from the sporocarp, breaking it into valves and carrying the sori into the water. Spore germination (gametophyte growth) and fertilization occur immediately.
Regnellidium diphyllum Lindman was introduced into a wildlife pond in Mahoning County, Ohio, in 1985 and continues to persist (C. F. Chuey, in litt. 1991). Regnellidium is similar to Marsilea but differs from it in having two leaflets instead of four.
Genera 3, species ca. 50 (2 genera, 7 species in the flora).