Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
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Ophioglossum pusillum

Higher Taxonomy
Family: OphioglossaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Perennial herb, small, fleshy, generally glabrous; caudex generally underground, unbranched; roots glabrous with bulblets or plantlets or not. Leaf: generally 1 per caudex per year, divided into 2 facing parts with a common stalk,(0)1 sterile and 1(2) fertile (fertile occasionally aborted); sterile photosynthetic part (trophophore) separated from spore-bearing part (sporophore) at to well above ground level; trophophore simple to compound, veins free and forked or netted with included veinlets; sporophore simple to compound, or 0 in young pls. Sporangia: dehiscent into 2 valves, +- 1 mm wide, thick-walled.
Genera In Family: 10 genera, 80--100 species: +- worldwide, generally rare or overlooked.
Unabridged Note: Distantly related to most (leptosporangiate) ferns. Haploid (gametophyte) generation underground. Both diploid and haploid generations obligately mycorrhizal. The family Psilotaceae (whisk ferns, 2 genera), sister to Ophioglossaceae, is represented in California (SCo) by 1 (of 2 total) apparently introduced species, Psilotum nudum (L.) P. Beauv. Psilotum is easily distinguished by the dichotomously branching, almost leafless green stems, lack of roots, and large (2--3 mm) 3-lobed sporangia; sporangia are borne on the adaxial (upper) side of a minute (+- 1 mm) forked leaf. Pantrop, subtrop (nearest native populations in Arizona and in Sonora, Mexico); expected in cultivation areas, especially at bases of old palms, possibly brought in on root masses as subterranean gametophytes. [Pryer et al. 2004 Amer J Bot 91:1582--1598]
eFlora Treatment Author: Donald R. Farrar, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Alan R. Smith, Bruce G. Baldwin, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: OphioglossumView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Roots smooth, pale, generally with bulblets or plantlets. Leaf: trophophore simple, linear to lanceolate or cordate, not midribbed, entire, firm, herbaceous, tip rounded, acuminate, or often mucronate, veins netted with included free branched or unbranched veinlets; sporophore generally > sterile, unbranched, slender. Sporangia: in 2 rows, sunken in a linear, long-stalked axis.
Species In Genus: 20--25 species: generally warm temperate, tropics. Etymology: (Greek: snake's tongue, from extended sporophore of leaf) Note: Incl highest chromosome numbers known in vascular pls.
eFlora Treatment Author: Alan R. Smith

Ophioglossum pusillum Raf.
Habit: Caudex generally < 10 mm, 3 mm wide. Leaf: blade flat, pale green, sporophore 1.3--3 × sterile. Sporangia: 10--30 pairs; rows of sporangia 10--30 mm; sterile tip of fertile stalk 1--3 mm. Chromosomes: 2n=+-960.
Ecology: Marsh edges, low pastures, grassy roadside ditches, vernal pool margins; Elevation: 1100--2000 m. Bioregional Distribution: e KR (Siskiyou Co.), NCoRH (Lake, Mendocino cos.), n SNH (El Dorado Co.); Distribution Outside California: to Alaska, northeastern and north-central North America. Note: True Ophioglossum vulgatum L., adder's-tongue fern, unknown in North America.
Synonyms: Ophioglossum vulgatum L. var. pseudopodum (S.F. Blake) Farw.
eFlora Treatment Author: Alan R. Smith
Jepson Online Interchange
Listed on CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

Previous taxon: Ophioglossum californicum
Next taxon: Sceptridium

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botanical illustration including Ophioglossum pusillum


Citation for this treatment: Alan R. Smith 2016. Ophioglossum pusillum, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on October 22, 2016.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2016. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on October 22, 2016.

Geographic subdivisions for Ophioglossum pusillum:
e KR (Siskiyou Co.), NCoRH (Lake, Mendocino cos.), n SNH (El Dorado Co.);
Markers link to CCH specimen records. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues. Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.