FLORA OF ICELAND elements: Botrychium lunaria, Common Moonwort, Tungljurt

Botrychium lunaria; The Common Moonwort is common all over Iceland, even in highland regions. It can be found in heatherlands and grasslands.
  It is a strange plant. It seems to have 2 leaves, a fertile one with sporangia and a vegetative one with leaflets. But not so: both are 2 segments of one leaf. The "bud" is below the ground produces just one leaf a season, the main nerve splitting in two along which leaflets are formed on the one and sporangia on the other. Under the ground, in the base (sheath) of the leaf, lies folded next years leaf. Before winter the leaf withers and the bud with the leaf sheath survives under ground. Strangely the plant can sometimes go for years "in hiding" without producing leaves. They are than "fed" by soil fungi. Actually the plant is even more dependent on soil fungi: the gametophyte stage of the plant also live entirely without chlorophyll underground for years before forming gametes (egg/sperm cells) and subsequential the sporophyte. The gametophyte is "fed" by fungi during this period. The plant does not have long rootstocks. So in an area with many Common Moonworts one can be sure that each leaf-combination represents an individual.
  The Icelandic name is Tungljurt. It is member of the Ophioglossaceae (Adder's-tongue family).

Some notes on other moonworts on Iceland.
 Botrychium simplex (Glossy Moonwort) is found mainly in the south of Iceland, often near the coast. It is a very small moonwort, usually only having 1 pair of side lobes and an end lobe on the vegetative part of the leaf. The generative part of the leaf far extends the small vegetative part.
 Botrychium boreale and Botrychium lanceolateum. Both species have incised leaf-blades. B. lanceolatum even more so than B. boreale.
 Botrychium minganense. Very much like the common B. lunaria. It is an American species. It can best be characterized by the leaflets not or hardly (at the top) overlapping. Another difference concerns the first pair of leaflets. In B. lunaria they are more or less faced towards the "stem" of the fertile leaf-segment (see photos). In B. minganense they lie in the same plane as the other leaflets.
 Botrychium nordicum. Only recently identified as a new species. It is like the common moonwort (B. lunaria). The leaflets are slanted placed on the "stem" and the base of the leaf is white in stead of green.
 With the exception of B. simplex, the species listed above are rare or even extremely rare. For more information. For more information see http://www.floraislands.is/burknar.html and check out species with an Icelandic name ending in (l)jurt.

A brief introduction to Iceland plants
Text & Photographs by Dick Vuijk
- unless stated otherwise
Other fern-related species

Other fern-related species

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Natural History of Iceland Site  in Dutch

Natural History of Iceland Site  Dutch