Adders-tongues are so-called because the spore-bearing stalk is thought to resemble a snake's tongue. Each plant typically sends up a small, undivided leaf blade with netted venation, and the spore stalk forks from the leaf stalk, terminating in sporangia which are partially concealed within a structure with slitted sides. The plant grows from a central, budding, fleshy structure with fleshy, radiating roots. When the leaf blade is present, there is not always a spore stalk present, and the plants do not always send up a leaf, sometimes going for a year to a period of years living only under the soil, nourished by association with soil fungi.
This herb can be used in spells and charms to stop gossip and slander or to promote healing. It has also been referred to as Serpent’s Tongue and is often considered sacred to those gods associated with snakes.