categoryZFerns Ferns List 

ADDER'S-TONGUE

Ophioglossum vulgatum

Adder's-Tongue Family [Ophioglossaceae]

Leaves:
leaves8may leaves8jun leaves8june leaves8jul leaves8july leaves8Aug leaves8sep leaves8sept leaves8Oct leaves8Nov

Spores:
spores8jun month8june spores8jul month8july spores8aug

category
category8Ferns
status
statusZnative

28th April 2013, a garden, Bognor Regis, West Sussex. Photo: © Rachel Knowles
A plant mainly of the South of England. A keen eye is required to spot this plant amidst the same-coloured grass within which it usually grows. Here there are about 7 specimens. Can the reader spot them all?


28th April 2013, a garden, Bognor Regis, West Sussex. Photo: © Rachel Knowles
The sterile blade (larger half-enveloping sheathe) is between 4cm and 15cm long.


22nd May 2015, Alt Rifle Range, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
They are short and so incredibly difficult to spot being concolorous with the surrounding grassland. reminiscent of the totally un-related Lords-and-Ladies (Arum maculatum) in both shape and form, with a 'spathe' half-enveloping a 'spadix'.


28th April 2013, a garden, Bognor Regis, West Sussex. Photo: © Rachel Knowles
The fertile blade of a young specimen has grooves ridges where the spores are going to form.


22nd May 2015, Alt Rifle Range, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The soon-to-be-fertile blade emerges from its semi-enveloping sheath.


28th April 2013, a garden, Bognor Regis, West Sussex. Photo: © Rachel Knowles
Taking on its recognisable form with gaps, which should produce spores but many specimens are barren.


Not to be semantically confused with : Adder's-tongue Spearwort (Ranunculus ophioglossifolius) [a plant with similar name belonging to the Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae)]

Easily mistaken for :

  • Small Adder's-tongue (Ophioglossum azoricum) which is rarer but widespread in the South of the UK, with 2 to 3 plants very close together and with narrower leaves, the leaves finishing earlier (in September rather than November) and the spores ripening slightly earlier (in July rather than June). [RR]
  • Least Adder's-tongue (Ophioglossum lusitanicum) which is much rarer and even smaller with leaves only about 1cm high and far easily over-looked than even Adder's-tongue itself (which is camoflaged amidst similarly coloured grass). [RRR]

Adder's-tongue grows on grassy places mainly on lime soils and also in dune slacks. It is widespread in the South of the UK. The single spike should bear spore cases (with spores within), but many specimens are barren.


  Ophioglossum vulgatum  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Ophioglossaceae  

Distribution
family8marrow family8Cucurbitaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Ophioglossum
Ophioglossum
(Adder's-tongues)

ADDER'S-TONGUE

Ophioglossum vulgatum

Adder's-Tongue Family [Ophioglossaceae]