Slender Adder's-Tongue

Scientific Name
Ophioglossum nudicaule L.f.
Higher Classification
Ophioglossum capense Schltdl. var. nudicaule (L.f.) Schltdl., Ophioglossum capense Sw.
Common Names
Slender Adder's-Tongue (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Least Concern
Assessment Date
J.E. Victor
Widespread and not threatened. Many recent collections indicate that this species was previously overlooked and not as rare as was thought.
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape
Springbok to the Cape Peninsula and eastwards to East London.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Albany Thicket, Fynbos, Succulent Karoo
Seasonally moist depressions or seeps in a variety of habitats, including grassland, thornveld, renosterveld and karroid shrubland.

Subpopulations are usually small but they may form very dense colonies, largely as a result of proliferation by means of root buds. In some places it may be locally common.

Population trend
According to Burrows (1992) the taxonomy of this species is poorly understood. He has studied collections from all continents that have been linked to O. nudicaule by means of various subspecies and he believes that all these belong to quite separate taxa and that O. nudicaule is endemic to the Cape, however, Burrows (1992) still argues for a worldwide survey of the "O. nudicaule" complex.
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Ophioglossum nudicaule L.f.Least Concern Raimondo et al. (2009)
Ophioglossum nudicaule L.f.Rare Hilton-Taylor (1996)

Burrows, J.E. 1990. Southern African ferns and fern allies. Frandsen Publishers, Sandton.

Burrows, J.E. 1992. The taxonomy of the genus Ophioglossum L. (Ophioglossaceae) in southern Africa. Unpublished M.Sc., University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg.

Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. and Burrows, S.M. 2011. Ferns of southern Africa: A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature, Cape Town.

Hilton-Taylor, C. 1996. Red data list of southern African plants. Strelitzia 4. South African National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

Jacobsen, W.B.G. 1983. The ferns and fern allies of southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban/Pretoria.

Raimondo, D., von Staden, L., Foden, W., Victor, J.E., Helme, N.A., Turner, R.C., Kamundi, D.A. and Manyama, P.A. 2009. Red List of South African Plants. Strelitzia 25. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.

Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. and Anthony, N.C. 1986. Pteridophyta. In: O.A. Leistner (ed). Flora of southern Africa:1-292. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

Victor, J.E. 2011. Ophioglossum nudicaule L.f. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2024/02/23

Comment on this assessment Comment on this assessment
Distribution map

Search for images of Ophioglossum nudicaule on iNaturalist