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Ophioglossum lusitanicum


Ophioglossum lusitanicum, the least adder's-tongue,<ref name="Stace2010">Template:Cite book</ref> is a small fern of the family Ophioglossaceae. It is a pan-tropically species categorised as least concern by the IUCN (2001).<ref>http://oldredlist.iucnredlist.org/details/194161/0</ref>


Ophioglossum lusitanicum is a small winter annual fern, and consists of a simple sterile blade attached to a spike-like fertile blade with between three and eight sunken sporangia on either side. The whole plant rarely exceeds a height of 2 cm.<ref name="Stace">Stace, Clive, (1997). New Flora of The British Isles, second edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press</ref>

This species has a chromosome number of 2n = 250–260.<ref name="Stace"/>


Ophioglossum lusitanicum is native to: Africa and India. It is also found on the western seaboard of Europe (Great Britain, Spain and Portugal); the Atlantic Islands (Cape Verde and the Canary Islands); the Middle East (Israel and Iran);<ref>Naqinezhad, AR & Kavousi, K. (2004) The easternmost distribution of Ophioglossum lusitanicum L., new to flora of Iran. –Iran Journ. Bot. 10 (2): 167-171.</ref>) South America (Peru and Argentina); and Australasia (Australia and New Zealand).<ref>Encyclopedia of Life: Ophioglossum lusitanicum</ref>

The distribution in Britain is restricted to one small area of coastal heath on St Agnes, Isles of Scilly where it was discovered by John Raven in 1950. It grows in short turf on Wingletang Down where some of the colonies are suffering from an increase of competitive grasses, gorse (Ulex europaeus) and bramble (Rubus fruticosus).<ref>Bennallick, I.J., French, C.F and Parslow, R.E. (2009) Vascular Plants. In CISFBR, Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 2nd Edition. Praze-an-Beeble: Croceago Press.</ref> Ophioglossum lusitanicum is listed on Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and is within a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

In Australasia and South America, this species is represented by a subspecies, Ophioglossum lusitanicum subsp. coriaceum (A. Cunn.) R.T. Clausen <ref>The Plant List.org: Ophioglossum lusitanicum subsp. coriaceum</ref><ref>NZ Plant Conservation Network: Ophioglossum coriaceum</ref>


As this species is a winter annual, it requires a warm winter environment. In its British populations, it favours thin, unshaded, peaty soils in south-facing localities.<ref>Online Atlas of the British Flora: Ophioglossum lusitanicum</ref>

Ophioglossum lusitanicum subsp. coriaceum has a much broader ecological range in southern Australia, where habitats include damp open sites; from coast meadows to alpine grassland.<ref>Ferns of New South Wales: Ophioglossum lusitanicum</ref> It is found in New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland, and other states.<ref>Royal Botanic Garden Sydney: Ophioglossum lusitanicum</ref>



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