Ophioglossum L.

Photo: P. Ballings


Description of the genus

Rhizome globose, subglobose or elongated, fleshy. Fronds devided into a simple leaflike fragment (trophophore) and a simple fertile segment (sporophore), inserted at base of the sterile segment or on the petiole, with a double row of sporangia in a spike near the apex.


Derivation of name:  ophis: snake, glossa: tongue; an allusion to the slender, sometimes forked apex above the fertile spike.

Worldwide: c. 30-50 species, cosmopolitan distribution



We have 26 taxa in the database for Ophioglossum.

  • Ophioglossum ammophilum C.D. Adams
  • Ophioglossum bergianum Schltdl.
  • Ophioglossum caroticaule J.E. Burrows
  • Ophioglossum convexum J.E. Burrows
  • Ophioglossum costatum R.Br.
  • Ophioglossum gomezianum Welw. ex A. Braun
  • Ophioglossum gracile Pocock ex J.E.Burrows
  • Ophioglossum gracillimum Welw. ex Hook. & Baker
  • Ophioglossum gramineum Willd.
  • Ophioglossum lancifolium C. Presl
  • Ophioglossum latifolium (Prantl) J.E. Burrows
  • Ophioglossum louisii Taton
  • Ophioglossum lusitanicum L.
  • Ophioglossum lusoafricanum Welw. ex Prantl
  • Ophioglossum nudicaule L.f.
  • Ophioglossum pendulum L.
  • Ophioglossum polyphyllum A.Braun
  • Ophioglossum reticulatum L.
  • Ophioglossum richardsiae J.E. Burrows
  • Ophioglossum rubellum Welw. ex A.Braun
  • Ophioglossum sandieae J.E. Burrows
  • Ophioglossum thomasii R.T. Clausen
  • Ophioglossum vulgatum L. ssp. vulgatum
  • Ophioglossum vulgatum L. ssp. africanum Pocock ex J.E. Burrows var. taylorianum J.E. Burrows
  • Ophioglossum vulgatum L. ssp. africanum Pocock ex J.E. Burrows var. africanum
  • Ophioglossum vulgatum L. ssp. kilimandscharicum (Hieron.) J.E.Burrows


  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature.
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13: 1-222.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0: 1-254.