Ophioglossum - Ophioglossaceae

Ophioglossum lusoafricanum Welw. ex Prantl

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Ophioglossum lancifolium sensu Burrows, pro parte
Ophioglossum lancifolium sensu Schelpe & Anthony
Ophioglossum lancifolium sensu Schelpe
Ophioglossum lancifolium sensu Kornas
Ophioglossum sensu Tardieu, non Willd.
Ophioglossum sensu R.J. Johns
Ophioglossum lancifolium sensu Faden

Common name


Rhizome elongated, up to 40 mm long, 1-3 mm wide, usually arising from a horizontal root; roots few, fleshy, sub-horizontal, proliferous; persistent leaf bases not present. Leaves 1 (sometimes 2), held at 60-90° from the horizontal. Petiole up to 9 cm long, subterranean for 30-50 % of its length, stipe:lamina lenght ratio 1-1.8:1. Sterile lamina (8-)21-48(-75) × (2-)3-8(12) mm, lenght:width ratio 3.3-8:8.1, narrowly elliptic or lanceolate in outline, apex pointed, base wedge-shaped to narrowly tapering, sometimes into a slender pseudo-petiole, venation obscure. Fertile segment 2-16 cm long, fertile spike:lamina lenght ratio 2.2-3:1, inserted at the base of the lamina or at the base of the pseudo-petiole. Sporangia 3-30 pairs.


O. gracillimum, O. caroticaule and O. sandiae are, like O. lusoafricanum, narrow leaved Ophioglossum species. The leaf width:length ratio of these ferns differs : O. caroticaule 1:7.2, O. gracillimum 1:10-20, O. sandiae 1:4.5. O. lusoafricanum has a leaf width: length ratio of 1:7-9 and a slender, linear rhizome.


luso: Portuguese, africanum: of Africa: of Angola, a previously Portuguese colony, from where this fern was first collected.


Montane grassland, woodland, in marshy areas among tall grasses, in wet seepage soils, in shallow soils overlying sheetrock.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, Madagascar.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania , Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. & Johns, R.J. (2001) Ophioglossaceae. Flora of Tropical East Africa, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew . Pages 13 - 14. (Includes a picture).
  • Burrows, J.E., Edwards, T.J. (1993) Nomenclatural changes and additions to the genus Ophioglossum in Africa (Ophioglossaceae: Pteridophyta).Bothalia, 23(2) Page 188.
  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature. Pages 116 - 117. (Includes a picture).
  • Roux, J.P. (2009) Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands. Strelitzia 23, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Page 34.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 33.