Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research

Ophioglossum pendulum L., 1763

Kingdom:Plantae
Phylum/Division:Filicophyta
Class:Pteridopsida
Order:Ophioglossales
Family:Ophioglossaceae
Genus:Ophioglossum
Species:O. pendulum
Common Names:Hanging Adder's-tongue Fern, Ribbon Fern
Status:Vulnerble

Description

The rhizome is small, bearing a few fronds and many fleshy roots. Fronds are linear, 40-120 x 1-4 cm, limp, hanging loosely down and narrowing to a fleshy stipe. The lamina is ribbon-like with entire edges, simple or branching dichotomously once to several times. The fertile spike is simple, 15-45 x 0.5 cm, arising from a short, 5-8 cm long stalk from the base of the frond. The spike bears two rows of sporangia joined together, each opening by a transverse slit.

Read more about the Ophioglossales order.
Read more about the Ophioglossaceae family.

Distribution

From Madagascar through tropical Asia to Polynesia, northwest to Assan, Indochina and Hainan.

Localities

Most nature reserves, wayside trees, parks and gardens.

Locality Map

General Biology

This is a fern that grows only in the root mass of the Stag's Horn Fern (Platycerium coronarium) and the Bird's Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus). It's status is vulnerable due mainly to old nests of Stag's Horn Ferns being systematically removed from our wayside trees in the 1980s - subsequently to be replaced with nest specimens purchased from Malaysia.

Life Cycle

For an account of the life history of a fern, see Pyrrosia piloselloides. In Ophioglossum, the spores develop underground, dependent on a mycorrhizal fungus for their further growth. The gametophyte is tuberous and non-green, taking up to a few years to complete its life cycle. This is very unlike the flat, mostly heart- or strap-shaped gametophytes of other ferns.

Human Uses

Young fronds are eaten as a vegetable. Shredded and mixed with coconut oil, they are used as an ointment for the hair. In the Philippines, an infusion of the fronds is used to treat cough and spores are given to newborn babies to keep off rheumatism. The fern is also grown as an ornamental.

References

de Winter, W. P. & V. B. Amoroso (eds.), 2003. Plant resources of South-East Asia No. 15(2). Cryptogams: Ferns and fern allies. Prosea Foundation, Borgor, Indonesia. 268 pp.

Holttum, R. E., 1966. A revised flora of Malaya. II Ferns of Malaya. Govt. Printing Office, Singapore (2nd ed.). 653 pp.

Lum, S. K. Y., H. T. W. Tan & Y. C. Wee, 2007. Trees of the Bukit Timah Campus: A tribute to old friends. National University of Singapore and Nature Society (Singapore). 128 pp.

Parris, B. S., R. Khew, R. C. K. Chung, L. G. Saw & E. Soepadmo (eds.), 2010. Flora of Peninsular Malaysia. Series I: Ferns and Lycophytes. Vol. 1. Malayan Forest records No. 48. Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, Kepong. 249 pp.

Wee, Y. C., 2005. Ferns of the tropics. Times Editions-Marshall Cavendish, Singapore. 2nd ed. 190 pp.

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    Wee Yeow Chin

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    01 Dec 1978
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    Jun 1982
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    Mar 1982
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    Wee Yeow Chin

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    Apr 1982
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    1985

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