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common adder's-tongue

common adder's-tongue (Ophioglossum vulgatum)
Photo © Christopher David Benda

Features and Behaviors

The common adder’s-tongue fern is a small plant that does not have a typical fern appearance. Its one, simple leaf is attached halfway up the single, smooth stalk. The shiny, deep green leaf is about four inches long and one-half inch wide. The fertile spike is at the tip of the stalk. The spike may resemble a snake’s tongue, which is how the common name for this plant came into use.

The common adder’s-tongue fern may be found in scattered locations throughout Illinois. It grows in moist woods and on rock ledges. Spores are produced from April through June.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Filicopsida
Order: Ophioglossales
Family: Ophioglossaceae

Illinois Status: common, native