Ophioglossum - Ophioglossaceae

Ophioglossum latifolium (Prantl) J.E. Burrows

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Common name


Rhizome spindle-shaped to linear, up to 16 mm long, 1–3 mm wide; roots fleshy, horizontal, sometimes also descending, proliferous;persistent leaf bases not present. Leaves 1 to 3. Petiole up to 28 mm long, 80–90% of its length subterranean. Sterile lamina 9-24 × 6-18 mm, bright green, appressed to, or held slightly off, the ground, broadly ovate, usually flat, sometimes slightly folded along the median line, length:width ratio 1.2–1.6:1, apex variable from rounded to pointed, base broadly wedge-shaped to truncate, margins flat and even; fertile spike (33–)50–82(–103) mm long, with (8–)11–14(–19) pairs of sporangia.


Could be confused with O. rubellum that has a carrot-shaped rhizome and dark green leaves with an orange to reddish tinge.


latifolium: broad-leaved


Terrestrial, in shallow seasonally moist soils overlaying sheetrock, and in deciduous woodland.

Distribution worldwide

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania , Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. & Johns, R.J. (2001) Ophioglossaceae. Flora of Tropical East Africa, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew . Pages 11 - 12. (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) Pages 188 - 189.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 33.
  • Roux, J.P. (2009) Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands. Strelitzia 23, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Pages 34 - 35.