Never seen so much Adder’s tongue fern

I was down at Dawlish Warren yesterday – in one of the dune slacks close to the visitor centre I found an Adder’s Tongue Fern – once I got my eye I could see hundreds of them. Never seen so many before anywhere!

To those people who have never seen an Adder’s Tongue Fern before I suspect most would not recognise it as a fern at all.

Adder's tongue fern 1
The blade of the fern with its spore bearing stalk.

Adder's tongue fern 2Get your eye in and there are over a dozen Adder’s Tongue Fern plants in this square metre alone

Adder’s Tongue Ferns are plants of unimproved grassland and are usually pretty difficult to find as they blend into the similarly coloured grassland. There are three species in the UK – two very rare and this one which is more abundant but not at all common. The Latin name for the genus is Ophioglossum. It comes from the Greek ophis which is a snake and glossa which is the tongue.

I’ve always found this description rather baffling as snakes (and adders in particular) have forked tongues…..

European_Adder_(Vipera_berus)_(7345075650)
An Adder with its forked tongue
By Thomas Brown via Wikimedia Commons

I guess the spore bearing stalk resembles a snake tongue before the fork!

An adder on Dartmoor in February

I mentioned in my Sunday blog that some of the lads on our 10 Tors training day had seen an adder – see here.

Well very kindly Reef Dow has sent me a photograph and a commentary.  “James  saw it as he almost stepped on it. We all then recognised it as an adder and then I photographed it. It is not the best picture in the world as I did not want to get too close in case I scared it away before the photograph was taken!”

The team saw the adder near to Moorlands Farm just over the Dart from the Dartmoor Training – interestingly this is exactly the same place that one of our 55 mile teams saw two last year!

Adders are reasonably common on Dartmoor but February (especially as the temperature was only 6 degrees) is early.

Adder 1Great photo Reef – thanks for sharing it. This is a male adder.

Here is a bit more information on adders if you are interested.