Ophioglossum pendulum L. (Ophioglossaceae) – A Critically Endangered fern rediscovered from Arunachal Pradesh, North East India.

· Articles

A. Benniamin1* & M.S. Sundari2

1Botanical survey of India,
Western Regional Centre, Pune -411001
2Department of Botany, St. Mary’s College, Tuticorin
*Corresponding author: A. Benniamin, email: fernsbenni@gmail.com


Ophioglossum pendulum L. is reported here from Arunachal Pradesh, North Eastern India. This species has been rediscovered after 179 years. A detailed taxonomic description along with photographs is provided to facilitate its future identification.

Keywords Ophioglossum pendulum, Arunachal Pradesh, North East India.


The genus Ophioglossum was discovered in 1620 by Bauhin. It is represented by 50 species in the world (Christensen, 1934 & Pichi-Sermolli, 1954).distributed mainly from Taiwan, Malaya to Philippines, Sumatra, New Guinea, Hawaii, Australia, Polynesia and Mauritius. In India it is represented by seven species from India. Panigrahi & Dixit (1969) reported nine species and a variety. Dixit (1984) listed nine species of Ophioglossum with two forma and two varieties.

Ophioglossum pendulum L. was first reported by Kurz (1876) from Indian territory in Nicobar Islands on the basis of collection made by Baron Ferdinand von Hochstetter (1829-1884) from Nicobar Islands more than 150 years ago. Afterwards Clarke (1880) he was the first pteridologist to report the occurrence of O.pendulum in northern India particularly in Assam based on collection of Bruce 1839. It was also collected by Griffith in (1835- 1836) After the collection of Gustav Mann near Lakimpur in Assam state in 1890s after that this fern has not been collected anywhere in North East India. It is worthwhile to mention that this area is comparatively well explored by many botanists (Deb, 1961, Baisya and Rao 1982;
Mehra 1988, Bir et al., 1989, 1990, Borthakur et al., 2000, Ghosh et al., 2014 Singh and Panighaghi, 2005, Das , 2007). However based on earlier reports Fraser –Jenkins (2008) listed it in his preliminary Revised Census List of Indian Pteridophytes and subsequently reported it as Critically endangered pteridophyte of India (Chandra et al., 2008, Fraser Jenkins 2012.). Beddome (1883) doubtfully recorded the occurrence of this species in Assam. Clausen (1938) has not seen any species, while discussing the distribution of the species refers to d’ Almeida’s report of its occurrence in different parts of India. Chakravarty (1951) and Panigrahi & Dixit (1969) doubt the occurrence of this species in Assam as recorded by Beddome (1883). Dixit (1984) mentioned the occurrence of this species in Andaman & Nicobar Islands. He also mentioned its occurrence in Assam based on Beddome. But, Dixit & Vohra (1984) excluded this species from the list of ferns of Indian mainland. But Thothathri et al., (1969) and Chauhan et al(2005) reported from Great Nicobar Island. It was next reported by Augustine et al. (1994) from South India at the Periyar Tiger Reserve, Idukki District, Kerala. Recently this species has been newly reported from North Sikkim. (Kholia and Jenkins 2014).

During an exploration tour to Upper Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh in the month of September 2012, one of us (AB) encountered a big epiphytic population growing on tree trunk of unexpectedly a population of dark green plants with forking of some of the strap shaped frond apices and presence of some raised stalks in the middle of two fronds were growing as epiphytes. It is interesting to note that this is only the second collection and rediscovered after 125 years. The present collection of this species from Arunachal Pradesh confirms its distribution in North East India. A brief description and photograph are provided for easy identification of the extremely critically endangered species. The specimens are deposited in Botanical Survey of India (ARUN), Arunachal Pradesh Regional Centre, Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh.

Taxonomic description

Ophioglossum pendulum L. Sp. Pl. ed. II. 2. 1518; 1763. Beddome, Ferns South India 88. t. 269. 1863; Handb. Ferns Brit. India 465. t. 291. 1883 & Suppl. 109. 1892; Handb. Ferns.Brit.India:465, t.291.1883; Suppl. Hanb.:109.1892; Clarke,Trans.Linn.Soc.Lond., II Bot., 1:586.1880; Clausen, Mem. Torrey Bot. Club 19 (2): 116, t 22.1938; Mahabale, Bull.Bot.Sur.India 4 (1-4): 71,t. 21-22.1962; Holttum, Rev.Flor.Malaya: 40.1955; Thothathri et al ., Bull.Bot.Surv. India 11 (3): 347-349, 1969; Panigraghi & Dixit, Proc. Natl. Inst.Sci. India, B 35 (3): 261, 1969: Nayar & Kaur, Comp.Bedd.Hanb.fern Brit. India: 107.1974; Tagawa & Iwatsuki, Flora. Thailand 3 (1) 37-38, 1979, Augustine et al. J. Econ. Tax.Bot 18: 445.1994. Chandra et al Ferns India 10. 2000. Chauhan et al., Indian Fern J 22: 146.2005; Easa Biodiv. Doc. Kerala 5 Pterid: 15.2003; Philcox, in Dassanayake & Shaffer- Fehra, Rev. Handb. Flora Ceylon 15 (A): 299- 300.2006: Knapp, Ferns Allies Taiwan: 301-302.2011; Zhang, Lycoph. Ferns China: 104.2012; Liu & Sahashi, in Wu & Raven, Clor.China 2-3: 78.2013. Kholia & Jenkins Indian Jour. For. 347-354, 2014.

Epiphyte, Rhizome short, creeping cylindrical, branched, up to 3 cm long fleshy Fronds 1.5-2 x 0.01-0.2 m linear and ribbon like pendulous, fleshy branched or unbranched or branched towards the apex, apex obtuse, base tapering and terete, margin entire, venation indistinct, reticulate with a series of long areoles formed by slender oblique cross veins connecting a series of more or less longitudinal veins; sporophyll arising from middle part of the sterile fronds, with stalks up to 7 cm long; spikes simple, yellow when mature up to 20-30 x 1-1.5 cm long. Sporangia globose, arranged in a row on either side of the stalk.2-6cm long shorter than the mature strobilus; Sporangia 2-3 mm in diameter exospores with fine reticulum , seemingly smooth.

Specimen examined: North East India, Arunachal Pradesh, Upper Siang District, Migging to Tuting forest area, 15.01.2013, A. Benniamin, ARUN (30094).

Ecology: It grows as epiphytes nearby road sides between 600-850m.

Economic Importance: Spores of this plant are given to babies at birth to purge meconium in Hawaii (Dixit & Vohra, 1984).


Augustine, J.N., Sasidharan, and Bharadwaj, A.K.1994. Ophioglossum pendulum L. (Ophioglossaceae) from the mainland of India. J.Econ. Tax. Bot. 18: 445-447.

Baishya, A.K. & Rao, R.R. 1982. Ferns and Fern-allies of Meghalaya State, India. Scientific Publishers, Jodhpur pp. 1-161,

Beddome, R. H. 1883. Handbook to the Ferns of British India, Ceylon and the Malay Peninsula. Thacker Spink & Co., Calcutta

Bir, S.S. , Kachroo,P. and Vadudeva, S.M. 1990. Pteridophytic flora of North Eastern India. Indian Fern Journal Patiala 7: 66-85.

Bir, S.S.,Vasudeva, S.M. and Kachroo, P. 1989. Pteridophytic flora of North Eastern India-I (Families Huperziaceae- Sinopteridaceae). Indian Fern Journal 6(1-2): 30-55. Reprinted as Bir, S.S., Kachroo, P. & Vasudeva, S.M.(1992)- Pteridophytic Flora of North Eastern India, Annotated Catalogue of the Recorded Species: Their Distribution, Ecology and Phytogeography. Indian Fern Society, Patiala.

Borthakur & Barua 2000. Ferns of Assam, Bishen Singh & Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun.

Chakravarty, H.L. 1951. Indian Ophioglossum. Bull.Bot. Soc.Bengal 5(1): 1-10.

Chandra, S., Fraser-Jenkins, C.R., Kumari, A. and Srivastava, A. 2008. A summary of the status of threatened pteridophytes of India. Taiwania 53: 170–209.

Chauhan, N., Padalia, H., Porwal, M.C. & Roy, P.S. 2005. Report of Ophioderma pendula (L.) Presl; A rare and interesting fern from Great Nicobar Island and its littoral habitat chracterization. Indian Fern j. 22 (1-2): 146-151.

Christensen, C. 1934. The ferns of Mount Kinabalu. Gard Bull. Str. Settim 7(3):191-316.

Clarke, C.B. 1880. A Review of the ferns of northern India etc. Trans. Linn. Soc. (Lond.), ser. 2 Bot., 1: 425-619, t, 49-84. Reprinted (1973). Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun.

Clausen, R.T. 1938. A monograph of the Ophioglossaceae. Memoirs of the Torrey Botanical Club 19: 1–177.

Das, N.C. 2007 Ferns and Fern Allies. Ferns and Fern Allies of Tripura. International Book Distributors, Dehradun. pp.1-140.

Deb, D.B. 1961. The Flora of Tripura State 1. Today & Tomorrow’s Printers and Publishers, New Delhi.

Dixit, R.D. 1984. A census of the Indian Pteridophytes. Flora of India Series 4. Bot. Surv. India, Calcutta

Dixit, R.D. & J.N. Vohra. 1984. A Dictionary of the Pteridophytes of India. Bot. Surv. India, Calcutta

Ghosh, S.R., Ghosh, B., Biswas, A. & Ghosh, R.K. 2004. The Pteridophytic Flora of Eastern India 1: 1–591. Flora of India Series 4, Botanical Survey of India, Kolkata

Kholia , B.S. & C.R. Fraser Jenkins 2014. Rediscovered of Ophioglossum pendulum L from Easter Himalaya with a note on historical background and new Distribution record to Sikkim, Ind. Jour. For. Vol 37(3) 347-354.

Kurtz, S. 1876. A sketch of the Vegetation of the Nicobar Islands. J. Asiat. Soc. Bengal, 45: 105-164.

Mehra, P.N. & Bir, S.S. (1964). Pteridophytic flora of Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalays. Res. Bull. Punjab Univ. New ser., 15(1&2): 69-182.

Panigrahi, G. & Dixit, R.D. 1969. Studies on the systematics of a few taxa of family Gleicheniaceae in India, In: Santapau, H. et al. (Eds.), Bull. Bot. Soc. Bengal J.Sen comm. vol.: 469-476.

Pichi Sermolli R.E.G., 1954. Adumbratio flora Aethiopicae – 3 Ophioglossaceae, Osmundaceae, Schizaceae Webbia 9: 623-660.

Singh, S. & Panigrahi, G. 2005. Ferns and Fern-Allies of Arunachal Pradesh 1(2): 881. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun.

Thothathri, K., Banerjee, S.P. & Mukerjee, P.K. (1969). Ophioglossum pendulum Linn. (Ophioglossaceae) – a rare and interesting fern from Great Nicobar Island. Bull. Bot. Surv. India. 11(3&4): 347- 349.

VN:F [1.9.21_1169]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)