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Ophioglossum ellipticum in louisiana usa and the taxonomy of ophioglossum nudicaule

Ophioglossum ellipticum in louisiana usa and the taxonomy of ophioglossum nudicaule

Castanea 49(3): 99-110

The adder's-tongue ferns, Ophioglossum (Ophioglossaceae) are noted for taxonomic problems. Of the 7 spp. known in southeastern USA, O. nudicaule L. is the most variable and taxonomically confused. C.M. Allen's recent discovery in Louisana of plants matching the tropical American O. ellipticum Hook. et Grev. led to a study of this taxon and its relationships with O. nudicaule. Taxon ellipticum differs from the traditional concept of O. nudicaule in its larger size, complex venation pattern with small secondary aeroles included within the large primary aeroles, and a pale central band on either side of the midrib on the abaxial surface of the blade. Comparison of forms of O. nudicaule demonstrates that there is a continuous morphological series running from very small plants with relatively simple veins and no included aeroles to large plants with complex veins and numerous included aeroles. The epithets that have been applied to the USA members of this series are enumerated, and all of them, including ellipticum, are synonymized under O. nudicaule. According to this new interpretation, O. dendroneuron E.P. St. John is an intermediate form that ties together the 2 ends of the spectrum of variation. A key to all of the species now recognized in the southeastern USA is presented, together with suggestions for making useful collections of these plants. It is hoped that the Allen locality will be preserved for future studies of what is the only presently known adder's-tongue in the United States that has the characters of typical O. ellipticum.

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