Ophioglossum - Ophioglossaceae

Ophioglossum lusoafricanum Welw. ex Prantl

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Ophioglossum lancifolium sensu Burrows
Ophioglossum lancifolium sensu Schelpe & Anthony

Common name


Rhizome elongated, up to 40 mm long, usually arising from a horizontal root; 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. Sterile lamina 20-60 × 3-10 mm, narrowly elliptic or lanceolate in outline, apex pointed, base wedge-shaped to narrowly tapering, sometimes into a slender pseudo-petiole, venation obscure; fertile segment 3-16 cm long, inserted at the base of the lamina or at the base of the pseudo-petiole. Sporangia 8-23 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, in wet seepage soils, in shallow soils overlying sheetrock.

Distribution worldwide

Distribution in Africa

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

Growth form



  • 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.