Ophioglossum - Ophioglossaceae

Ophioglossum gomezianum Welw. ex A. Braun

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Common name


Rhizome short, ellipsoid or oval, sometimes with a few short persistent leaf bases; roots descending, then horizontal, proliferous. Leaves up to 4 leaves but mostly 2, arising from ground level, held at 45-75° from the horizontal, bright to yellowish green. Stipe up to 2.5 cm long, subterranean for most of its length (80-100%), stipe:lamina ratio 0.4-0.8:1, stipe bases persistent. Sterile lamina 10-35 × 5-9.5 mm, lenght:width ratio 2.1-3.6:1, elliptic in outline, flat to shallowly concave above, apex pointed, base narrowly wedge-shaped. Fertile segment 3-9 cm long, inserted at or just above the base of the lamina, fertile spike:lamina ratio 1.9-2.3:1. Sporangia 8-14 pairs.


Could be confused with O. sandieae which has a spindle-shaped rhizome and usually a single leaf with a petiole that is only for 40% subterranean. O. costatum has dull green leaves with a prominent pale midrib on the under surface. O. rubellum has dark green leaves that are held at up to 20° from the horizontal or appressed to the ground.


gomezianum: named after Mr. B. Gomez (1806-1877), Portuguese botanist.


Seasonally wet sheetrock mats, in shallow sandy soil, in full sun, in dry tropical woodland and savanna.

Distribution worldwide

Africa, extending Eastwards to India.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Burkina Fasso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea (incl. Bioko), Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan and South Sudan, Tanzania , Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 43 - 44. (Includes a picture).
  • Burrows, J.E. & Johns, R.J. (2001) Ophioglossaceae. Flora of Tropical East Africa, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew . Page 8. (Includes a picture).
  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature. Pages 124 - 125. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 160 - 161. (Includes a picture).
  • Kornas, J. (1979) Distribution and ecology of the Pteridophytes in Zambia. Polska Akademia Nauk Wydzial II Nauk Biologicznych. Page 37.
  • 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 33.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 32.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 35. (Includes a picture).