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Indian researchers have discovered the world’s smallest land fern in the Ahwa forests of the Western Ghats in Gujarat’s Dang district.
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About the Fern
The fingernail-sized fern belongs to a group known as the adder’s-tongue ferns, named after their resemblance to a snake’s tongue. The size of the new Malvi’s adder’s-tongue fern Ophioglossum Salviae is just one centimetre.
It differs from similar ferns not just in size (the most similar adder’s-tongue fern is 10 cm tall) but other complex fern features too; the plant’s minuscule seeds (called spores) have a unique thick outer layer which similar species lacked.
The researchers also analysed the plant’s DNA and found it to vary enough from its relatives to call it a new species.
Initial observations suggest that the ferns are seasonal and grow with the first monsoon rains.