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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 April 29, 2016.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2016. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 29, 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. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
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.