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Ophioglossum pendulum L.

Family Name: Ophioglossaceae
Common Name: Ribbon Fern, Adder's Tongue Fern
Semi Shade Lots of Water Moderate Water Occasional Misting Native to Singapore Suitable for Hanging Baskets Indoor Plant Ornamental Leaves Shallow Media Ferns and Lycophytes Epiphyte


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Ferns & Allies (Non-Seed Vascular Plants) (Fern)
Plant Growth Form Epiphyte
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Weeping / Pendulous
Maximum Height 0.4 m to 1.2 m


Native Distribution Madagascar, Tropical Asia to Polynesia, Indochina and South China (Hainan)
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Secondary Rainforest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Critically Endangered (CR))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is an epiphytic fern with pendulous fronds, growing on palms, tree-ferns, trees, sometimes on rocks; in the lowlands and hills.
Foliage Fronds light to mid green, pendent, tape or ribbon-like, 0.4m to 1.2m in length and 1cm to 4cm wide, often to 1.5m or more in cultivation. Fronds simple, or branching dichotomously.
Reproductive Parts - non-flowering plant The spike produces numerous creamy white spores that are dispersed by wind.
Habitat Grows in association with Platycerium species (Staghorn ferns) and Asplenium nidus  (Bird's nest ferns); spores of the Adder's tongue fern rely on a fungus (mycorrhiza) to germinate that is found in the 'nest' of these ferns. In cultivation, the fern can be detached and grown separately from the Staghorn/ birdnest fern, 
Cultivation It can be propagated by spores.
Etymology Greek Ophis, a snake; Greek glossa, tongue, referring to the slender fertile spike bearing the sporangia in this genus; Latin pendulum, hanging, pendulous, referring to the pendulous fronds.
Ethnobotanical Uses [Others]: Its long, narrow leaves are shredded into coconut oil by the Moluccas, to be applied to the head for the improvement of the hair.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage, Ornamental Form
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Shallow Media (8 -10cm)
Landscape Uses Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Interiorscape/ Indoor Plant, Container Planting, Hanging Basket

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water, Lots of Water, Occasional Misting
Plant Growth Rate Fast to Moderate
Propagation Method Spore


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green

Image Repository



Master ID 263
Species ID 1559
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 28 February 2022.