In the Wild
Northern Adder’s Tongue (Ophioglossum pusillum)
*Also known as adder’s fern and serpent’s tongue
American Trout-lily (Erythronium americanum)
*Also known as adder’s tongue and dogtooth violet
There is a lot of confusion over the name adder’s tongue because the American trout-lily shares it as a folk name. As previously mentioned, this confusion has extended to the point where the folk name dogtooth violet has been applied to northern adder’s tongue. As a result, these plants have been used interchangeably in magic.
Although it is in the same family as ferns, northern adder’s tongue does not resemble its cousins and actually looks snake-like. It has one oval leaf-like frond and one seed stalk, which looks like a double row of beads that turn reddish as they mature. This plant grows between five and twelve inches tall, and can be found in marshes, ditches, and woods that are seasonally wet. Its genus name comes from the Greek ophios, meaning “serpent,” and glossa, meaning “tongue.” 24
The American trout-lily grows in colonies where each plant has a pair of brownish, mottled leaves (spotted like a trout) at the base of a stalk that bears a solitary, yellowish flower. The drooping flowers have dark protruding stamens. According to folklore, this plant was said to cure snakebites. The name dogtooth violet refers to the shape of its white underground bulb. This plant can be found in moist deciduous woodlands and clearings.
American trout-lily is associated with the moon. Use the flowers to support divination and lunar magic. Include a few flowers in a sachet and place it under your pillow to aid in dream magic. In the nineteenth century, it was considered an aphrodisiac.
Northern adder’s tongue is an aid for emotional and spiritual healing, and for deepening spirituality. This plant also helps to bolster strength and courage. Gather and dry a couple of oval leaves to burn in spells for these purposes, or place two of the seed stalks on your altar and meditate on your purpose.
In some areas, these plants are considered endangered species. Check with your local or state government. If this is the case, they should not be collected, of course. Instead, if you find them, take a moment or two to sense their energy, and then state your purpose for seeking their aid. Send them healing, supportive energy before you leave.
Adder’s tongue is associated with the element water. Its astrological influence comes from the moon.