Ophioglossum pusillum - Raf.
Northern Adder's-tongue
Other Common Names: northern adderstongue
Synonym(s): Ophioglossum vulgatum var. alaskanum (E.G. Britt.) Christens. ;Ophioglossum vulgatum var. pseudopodum (Blake) Farw.
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Ophioglossum pusillum Raf. (TSN 504033)
French Common Names: ophioglosse nain
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.129327
Element Code: PPOPH020F0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Ferns and relatives
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Filicinophyta Ophioglossopsida Ophioglossales Ophioglossaceae Ophioglossum
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Ophioglossum pusillum
Taxonomic Comments: Treated as O. vulgatum var. pseudopodum in some older works (e.g., Fernald 1950).
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 01Nov2011
Global Status Last Changed: 20Apr1989
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Ophioglossum pusillum is known from Nova Scotia west to North Dakota, south to Virginia, North Carolina (possibly), Indiana, and Nebraska. O. pusillum is also known from western North America: from Alaska, and is rare in British Columbia, Montana, Washington, Oregon and extirpated in California.
Nation: United States
National Status: NNR
Nation: Canada
National Status: N4N5 (08Oct2011)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alaska (SH), California (S1), Connecticut (S1), Delaware (SH), District of Columbia (SNR), Illinois (S3S4), Indiana (SNR), Iowa (S3), Kentucky (S1?), Maine (S1?), Maryland (SNR), Massachusetts (S2), Michigan (SNR), Minnesota (SNR), Missouri (SNR), Montana (S3), Nebraska (S2), New Hampshire (S2), New Jersey (S3), New York (S3), North Carolina (SNR), North Dakota (S2), Ohio (S1), Oregon (S1), Pennsylvania (SNR), Rhode Island (S1), South Dakota (SNR), Vermont (S2S3), Virginia (S1), Washington (S1S2), West Virginia (SH), Wisconsin (S3), Wyoming (S1)
Canada British Columbia (S2S3), Manitoba (S1), New Brunswick (S2S3), Nova Scotia (S2S3), Ontario (S4?), Prince Edward Island (S1), Quebec (S3)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: From Nova Scotia west to North Dakota, south to Virginia, possibly North Carolina, Indiana, and Nebraska; and in the Pacific Northwest (Weakley, 1997). In California, known historically from El Dorado and Siskiyou Counties (Skinner, 1997).

Number of Occurrences:  
Number of Occurrences Comments: Extirpated in California, known from two historical occurrences (Skinner, 1997).

Population Size Comments: Rare in Virginia (Weakley, 1997). Rare in southern British Columbia (Douglas, 1989).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: From Nova Scotia west to North Dakota, south to Virginia, possibly North Carolina, Indiana, and Nebraska; and in the Pacific Northwest (Weakley, 1997). In California, known historically from El Dorado and Siskiyou Counties (Skinner, 1997).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, CA, CT, DC, DE, IA, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SD, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Canada BC, MB, NB, NS, ON, PE, QC

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AK Aleutians West (CA) (02016)*
CA El Dorado (06017)*, Mendocino (06045), Siskiyou (06093)*
CT Litchfield (09005), Middlesex (09007), New Haven (09009), New London (09011)
IA Benton (19011), Black Hawk (19013), Bremer (19017), Buchanan (19019), Butler (19023), Cedar (19031), Chickasaw (19037), Clayton (19043), Clinton (19045), Fayette (19065), Floyd (19067), Howard (19089)*, Johnson (19103), Jones (19105), Linn (19113), Louisa (19115), Mahaska (19123), Marshall (19127), Mitchell (19131), Muscatine (19139), Scott (19163), Winneshiek (19191)
MA Barnstable (25001), Berkshire (25003), Bristol (25005)*, Dukes (25007)*, Essex (25009)*, Franklin (25011), Hampden (25013)*, Hampshire (25015), Middlesex (25017)*, Nantucket (25019)*, Norfolk (25021)*, Plymouth (25023)*, Suffolk (25025)*, Worcester (25027)
ME Androscoggin (23001)*, Aroostook (23003)*, Cumberland (23005)*, Franklin (23007)*, Hancock (23009)*, Kennebec (23011)*, Lincoln (23015)*, Oxford (23017)*, Piscataquis (23021)*, Waldo (23027)*, York (23031)*
MT Flathead (30029), Lake (30047), Lincoln (30053), Missoula (30063)
ND Ransom (38073), Richland (38077)
NE Brown (31017), Cherry (31031), Custer (31041), Grant (31075), Sheridan (31161)
NH Carroll (33003), Coos (33007), Grafton (33009), Rockingham (33015)*
NJ Burlington (34005), Cape May (34009), Hunterdon (34019), Sussex (34037)*
OH Lucas (39095), Williams (39171)
OR Baker (41001), Clackamas (41005), Coos (41011), Douglas (41019)*, Grant (41023), Jackson (41029), Lane (41039), Linn (41043)
RI Kent (44003)*, Newport (44005)*, Providence (44007)*, Washington (44009)
VT Bennington (50003)*, Caledonia (50005), Chittenden (50007), Essex (50009), Lamoille (50015), Orleans (50019), Rutland (50021)*, Washington (50023), Windham (50025)*, Windsor (50027)*
WA Chelan (53007), Douglas (53017), Kittitas (53037)*, Klickitat (53039), Mason (53045), Pend Oreille (53051), Stevens (53065)
WY Teton (56039)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Aroostook (01010004)+*, Upper Kennebec (01030001)+*, Lower Kennebec (01030003)+*, Lower Androscoggin (01040002)+*, Maine Coastal (01050002)+*, St. George-Sheepscot (01050003)+*, Presumpscot (01060001)+*, Saco (01060002)+, Piscataqua-Salmon Falls (01060003)+*, Nashua (01070004)+, Concord (01070005)+*, Upper Connecticut (01080101)+, Passumpsic (01080102)+, Black-Ottauquechee (01080106)+*, Middle Connecticut (01080201)+, Miller (01080202)+*, Deerfield (01080203)+, Chicopee (01080204)+, Lower Connecticut (01080205)+, Westfield (01080206)+*, Charles (01090001)+*, Cape Cod (01090002)+, Blackstone (01090003)+*, Narragansett (01090004)+*, Pawcatuck-Wood (01090005)+, Quinebaug (01100001)+*, Quinnipiac (01100004)+, Housatonic (01100005)+
02 Hudson-Hoosic (02020003)+*, Raritan (02030105)+, Middle Delaware-Mongaup-Brodhead (02040104)+*, Cohansey-Maurice (02040206)+, Mullica-Toms (02040301)+
04 St. Joseph (04100003)+, Lower Maumee (04100009)+, Otter Creek (04150402)+*, Winooski River (04150403)+, Lamoille River (04150405)+, Lake Champlain (04150408)+, St. Francois River (04150500)+
07 Turkey (07060004)+, Maquoketa (07060006)+, Upper Wapsipinicon (07080102)+, Lower Wapsipinicon (07080103)+, Upper Cedar (07080201)+, Shell Rock (07080202)+, West Fork Cedar (07080204)+, Middle Cedar (07080205)+, Lower Cedar (07080206)+, Upper Iowa (07080207)+, Middle Iowa (07080208)+, Lower Iowa (07080209)+, Lower Des Moines (07100009)+
09 Western Wild Rice (09020105)+, Lower Sheyenne (09020204)+
10 Upper Niobrara (10150003)+, Middle Niobrara (10150004)+, Snake (10150005)+, Upper Middle Loup (10210001)+, Lower Middle Loup (10210003)+, Upper North Loup (10210006)+, Calamus (10210008)+
17 Upper Kootenai (17010101)+, Fisher (17010102)+*, North Fork Flathead (17010206)+, Middle Fork Flathead (17010207)+, Flathead Lake (17010208)+, South Fork Flathead (17010209)+, Stillwater (17010210)+, Swan (17010211)+, Pend Oreille (17010216)+, Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake (17020001)+, Colville (17020003)+, Chief Joseph (17020005)+, Upper Yakima (17030001)+*, Snake headwaters (17040101)+, Powder (17050203)+, Middle Columbia-Hood (17070105)+*, Klickitat (17070106)+, Middle Fork John Day (17070203)+, Middle Fork Willamette (17090001)+, Mckenzie (17090004)+, South Santiam (17090006)+, Clackamas (17090011)+, Siltcoos (17100207)+, North Umpqua (17100301)+*, Coos (17100304)+, Upper Rogue (17100307)+, Skokomish (17110017)+*, Hood Canal (17110018)+
18 Middle Fork Eel (18010104)+, Sacramento headwaters (18020005)+*, North Fork American (18020128)+*
19 Fox Islands (19030102)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
General Description: Adder's Tongue is an herbaceous perennial that is up to 20 cm high. Each plant has an erect, leafless stem that is 2-15 cm high and which branches into a single leaf-like, ascending, sterile blade and into an erect, spike-like fertile stalk. The sterile blade is elliptic to broadly lance-shaped and 2-8 cm long with entire margins and a rounded to pointed tip. The upper portion of the fertile stalk has 2 rows of contiguous spore-bearing sacs on one side.
Diagnostic Characteristics: There is no other fern with a single entire-margined blade.
Habitat Comments: Moist streamside meadow (Weakley, 1997). Periodically flooded wet meadows and lake margins, in the lowland and montane zones (Douglas, 1989).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 20May1998
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: GRIES, D
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 23Dec1996
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): MZB

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

  • Andersen, M.D. and B. Heidel. 2011. HUC-based species range maps. Prepared by Wyoming Natural Diversity Database for use in the pilot WISDOM application operational from inception to yet-to-be-determined date of update of tool.

  • Bruce-Grey Plant Committee. 1999. A Guide to the Ferns of Grey and Bruce Counties, Ontario. Stan Brown Printers Ltd., Owen Sound, Ontario. 119 pp.

  • Cody, W.J., and D.M. Britton. 1989. Ferns and fern allies of Canada. Research Branch, Agriculture Canada, Ottawa. 430 pp.

  • Dorn, R. D. 1992. Vascular Plants of Wyoming, second edition. Mountain West Publishing, Cheyenne, WY.

  • Dorn, R. D. 2001. Vascular Plants of Wyoming, third edition. Mountain West Publishing, Cheyenne, WY.

  • Douglas, G.W., G.B. Straley, and D. Meidinger. 1989. The vascular plants of British Columbia. Part 1. Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons (Asteraceae through Cucurbitaceae). Crown Publications Incorporated. Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. 208 pp.

  • Evert, E. F. 2010. Vascular Plants of the Greater Yellowstone Area: Annotated Catalog and Atlas. Park Ridge, IL.

  • Fertig, W. 2000. Rare vascular plant species in the Wyoming portion of the Utah-Wyoming Rocky Mountains Ecoregion. Prepared for the Wyoming Nature Conservancy by the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, Laramie, WY.

  • Hitchcock, C. L., A. Cronquist and M. Ownbey. 1969. Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest, Part 1: Vascular Cryptograms, Gymnosperms and Monocotyledons. University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA.

  • Hulten, E. 1968. Flora of Alaska and Neighboring Territories. Stanford University Press. Palo Alto, CA. 1008 pp.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1992. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the U.S., Canada, and Greenland. The biota of North America. Corrected page proof.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Lellinger, D. B. 1985. A Field Manual of the Ferns and Fern Allies of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

  • Lesica, P. & J. S. Shelly. 1991. Sensitive, Threatened and Endangered Vascular Plants of Montana. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Occ. Publ. No. 1. Helena, MT.

  • Skinner, M.W., and B.M. Pavlik, eds. 1997 (1994). Inventory of rare and endangered vascular plants of California. 1997 Electronic Inventory Update of 1994 5th edition, California Native Plant Society, Special Publication No. 1, Sacramento.

  • Tryon, A.F. and R.C. Moran. 1997. The Ferns and Allied Plants of New England. Center for Biological Conservation, Massachusetts Audubon Society, Lincoln, Massachusetts. 325 pp.

  • Wagner Jr., W. H. and F. S. Wagner. 1993. Ophioglossaceae. Pages 85-106 in Flora of North America Editorial Committee, editor. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 2. Pteridophytes and Gymnosperms. Oxford University Press, New York, NY.

  • Washington Natural Heritage Program. 2000. Field Guide to Washington's Rare Plants. Washington Dept. of Natural Resources and Spokane District, USDI Bureau of Land Management.

  • Weakley, A.S. 1997. Flora of the Carolinas and Virginia: working draft of 21 July 1997. The Nature Conservancy, Southeast Regional Office, Southern Conservation Science Dept., Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

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