On the identity and occurrence of Ophioglossum costatum (Pteridophyta: Ophioglossaceae) in Andhra Pradesh, India


Vatsavaya S. Raju 1, A. Ragan 2, S. Suthari 3 & M.V. Ramana 4


1-3 Plant Systematics Laboratory, Department of Botany, Kakatiya University, Warangal, Andhra Pradesh 506009, India

4 Department of Botany, Osmania University, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh 500007, India

Email: 1 satyavatsa@yahoo.co.in (corresponding author), 2 raganajmeera@yahoo.co.in, 3 sateeshsuthari@yahoo.com, 4 venkat.botany@gmail.com



Date of publication (online): 26 January 2011

Date of publication (print): 26 January 2011

ISSN 0974-7907 (online) | 0974-7893 (print)


Editor: P.B. Khare


Manuscript details:

Ms # o2568

Received 10 September 2010

Finally accepted 06 December 2010


Citation: Raju, V.S., A. Ragan, S. Suthari  & M.V. Ramana (2011). On the identity and occurrence of Ophioglossum costatum (Pteridophyta: Ophioglossaceae) in Andhra Pradesh, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 3(1): 1462-1464.


Copyright: © Vatsavaya S. Raju, A. Ragan, S. Suthari  & M.V. Ramana 2011. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. JoTT allows unrestricted use of this article in any medium for non-profit purposes, reproduction and distribution by providing adequate credit to the authors and the source of publication.


Acknowledgement: MVR is obliged to Prof. B. Bhadraiah, Head and Research Supervisor, Department of Botany, Osmania University, Hyderabad, for encouragement.


Abbreviations: BSID - Herbarium of Deccan Circle, Botanical Survey of India, Hyderabad; KUH - Kakatiya University Herbarium, Warangal;  SKU - Herbarium of Department of Botany, Sri Krishna Devaraya University, Anantapur.



For image, table -- click here



The members of the genus Ophioglossum L. (Ophioglossaceae) are known as snake tongue or adderÕs tongue ferns.  The genus comprises, worldwide, an estimated 28-58 (Panigrahi & Dixit 1969) to 40 species (Singh et al. 2009).  In India, it is represented by 12 species (Yadav & Tripathi 2002; Goswami et al. 2008; Singh et al. 2009).  Pullaiah et al. (2003) recorded three species of the genus for the state of Andhra Pradesh, namely, Ophioglossum gramineum Willd., O.nudicaule L.f. and O. reticulatum L. However, earlier Rao et al. (1999) reported O. pedunculosum Desv. to be common on the hills of Tuni in East Godavari District which is synonymous with Ohioglossum costatum R.Br. - a distinct, widespread species often misidentified with O. nudicaule L.f. The present paper attempts to look at this problem and adds a note on the field identity and occurrence of the paleotropical fern, Ophioglossum costatum R.Br., in Andhra Pradesh.


Taxonomic identity

In the herbarium, often, the differences between the specimens of O. costatum and O. nudicaule are not perceived properly and confused when the particulars of the subterranean parts such as rhizome shape, size, number of fibrous roots, origin of trophophylls, depth at which the rhizome is buried, presence of stolons, etc. are missing or not indicated.  Table 1 provides the differences between these species for their proper identification.

Although the sterile fronds arise from the subterranean part of the rhizome in O. costatum, O.nudicaule and O. polyphyllum, the plants attain a height of about 4cm, the rhizome is tuberous, cylindrical with a growing point, stolons help in vegetative propagation, the angle between peduncle and lamina is 900 and the venation of the sterile frond is not double in O. nudicaule.  The plants can reach a height of 25cm, the rhizome is globose, tuberous with an apical cupule, no stolons but bear profuse lateral roots and the trophophyll is with a distinct pale midrib in O. costatum, whereas, the sterile fronds are many (2-5; usually 4) and without the distinct costa in O. polyphyllum.


Ophioglossum costatum


Ophioglossum costatum R.Br., Prodr. Fl. Nov. Holl.: 163. 1810; Balakrishnan et al. in Bull. Bot. Surv. India 2: 337. 1960; Panigrahi & Dixit in J. Indian Bot. Soc. 35: 249. f. 38, 39. 1969.

O. pedunculosum Desv., Mag. Ges. Nat. Fr. Berlin 5: 306. 1811; Clausen in Mem. Torrey Bot. Club 19(2): 140. 1938.

O. pedunculatum Desv. ex Poir., Enc. Suppl. 4: 164. 1816 (error).

O. fibrosum Schumach. in Beskr. Guin. Pl.: 452. 1827; Bedd., Handb. Ferns Brit. India: 465. t.289. 1883; Mahabale in Bull. Bot. Surv. India 4: 71. 1962.

O. wightii Grev. et Hook., Bot. Misc. 3(8): 218. 1833.

O. brevipes Bedd., Ferns South. India: 23, t. 72. 1863.

O. bulbosum Bedd., Handb. Ferns Brit. India, Suppl.: 28. t.72. 1876, non Michx. (1803), nom.illeg.

Diagnosis: Perennial herbs (geophyte) of 13-19.7 cm high; rhizome tuberous, globose (Image 1d), 0.6 to 1 cm diam., with 37-54 lateral, fibrous, radiating or descending, non-proliferous roots arising from the entire periphery of the knob-like rhizome except at the bottom (Images 1c,e); stolons absent. Trophophylls (sterile fronds) 2 or 3, rarely 4 (even 5 c.f. Beddome, loc. cit. ff. 72, 289) or single arising from a crater (pit-like depression); 3-7 x 1-3 cm, green with distinct pale midrib; usually flat, at times folded or concave; ovate or ovate-lanceolate or elliptic, slightly fleshy, broadly cuneate at base; apex acute to obtuse; margin entire or wavy; standing at 40-600 from the ground; trophophore 70–90% of its length subterranean. Common stipe 0.8-1.8 cm; peduncle 9.1-14.4 cm, fertile segment (strobilus) arising above the middle of the stalk [peduncle] (Images 1a,b); strobilus 1.2-2.9 cm (length) x 0.2-0.25 cm (diam.); green (Image 1f), yellowish when ripe (Image 1g); ratio of common stipe, peduncle and strobilus 1.0:7.5:1.5; sporangia 25-35 pairs per spike; length 0.75-1 mm, with no sterile tip. Spores trilete.

Distribution: (a) Global: Tropical Africa, Madagascar, India to Australia and New Zealand. (b) India: Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu (Balakrishnan et al. 1960); Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Kerala (Panigrahi & Dixit 1969); found in open grassy forest floors, margins of ditches or hill slopes, next to rock boulders, etc.

Ex Siccate: 13.vii.2010, Osmania University campus, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India,  (17025Õ57.7ÕÕN & 78031Õ47.2ÕÕE, 517m), V.S. Raju & M.V. Ramana, 001923 (BSID); 14.viii.2010, Pakhal Wildlife Sanctuary, Warangal District, (17057Õ41.5ÕÕN & 79059Õ00.7ÕÕE, 256m altitude); V.S. Raju, A. Ragan & S. Suthari, 1853 (KUH); 06.xii.2002, Chandragiri, Chittoor District, P.A. Lakshmi, 26240 (SKU).

Note: (i) Plate 2 by Pullaiah et al. (2003) carry the picture of plants of Ophioglossum nudicaule from Chandragiri, Chittoor District which clearly pertain to O. costatum. Prof. R.R.V. Raju (pers. comm.) confirms the herbarium specimen cited above of the collector at SKU as of O. costatum; (ii) Pullaiah et al. (2003) also failed to record the presence of O. pedunculosum in Tuni Hills of East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh reported by Rao et al. (1999); O. pedunculosum Desv. is now treated conspecific with O. costatum R.Br.; (iii) The specimens of O. costatum from Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh were found to be larger bearing long elliptic leaves, etc. (Balakrishnan et al. 1960); (iv) Although O. costatum is not in endangered list, its habitats are threatened due to alien plant invasions (by Hyptis suaveolens, Parthenium hysterophorus, etc.), grazing (Image 1h), etc.





Balakrishnan, N.P., K. Thothathri & A.N. Henry (1960). Some Indian Ophioglossums - taxonomy and distribution. Bulletin of the Botanical Survey of India 2(3&4): 335-339.

Goswami, H.K., S.C. Verma & B.D. Sharma (2008). Biology of Pteridophytes – I. Ophioglossum L. Bionature Monograph, Catholic Press Ranchi, Jharkhand-India, 135pp.

Panigrahi, G. & R.D. Dixit (1969). Studies in Indian Pteridophytes. IV. The family Ophioglossaceae in India. Proceedings of the National Institute of Sciences of India 35B: 230-266.

Pullaiah, T., A. Ahmed & P.A. Lakshmi (2003). Ophioglossum: pp. 38-42. In: Pteridophytes in Andhra Pradesh, India. Regency Publications, New Delhi.

Rao, R.S., S. Sudhakar & P. Venkanna (1999). Flora of East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh, India. INTACH, A.P. State Chapter, Hyderabad, p.801.

Singh, A.P., S. Mishra, S. Gupta, S.K. Behera & P.B. Khare (2009). Studies on the genus Ophioglossum L. in Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India. Taiwania 54(4): 353-364.

Yadav, B.L. & M.K. Tripathi (2002). Ophioglossum in Rajasthan - taxonomy and distribution. pp. 248-267. In: Trivedi, P.C. (ed.), Advances in Pteridology. Pointer Publisher, Jaipur.