Ophioglossum - Ophioglossaceae

Ophioglossum nudicaule L.f.






Ophioglossum capense Sw.
Ophioglossum capense var. nudicaule (L.f.) Schltdl.

Common name


Rhizome linear, 5-15 mm long; with a few persistent petiole bases. Leaves mostly 2 or 3 sometimes up to 5, appressed to the ground or just off it. Petiole 8-15 mm long, subterranean for most of its lenght. Sterile lamina elliptic to narrowly ovate, apex broadly or bluntly pointed, base broadly wedge-shaped, tapering into a narrow pseudo-petiole, 10-20 x 5-11 mm, width:lenght ratio 1:1.6-2.5, upper surface concave but the whole leaf somewhat reflexed, venation obscure. Fertile spike arising a quarter to three quarters of the way up the sterile petiole, at or below ground level, 15-40 mm long. Sporangia 2-9 pairs, apex sharply pointed.



nudicaule: lacking a stem or with a naked stem, reference unclear.


In light shade of grasses or bushes in seasonally dry scrub, in thornveld, succulent scrub (renosterveld) or ericoid scrub (fynbos).

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

South Africa.

Growth form



  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Page 43. (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 102 - 103. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Page 162. (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.