Invasive Sword Fern

Big red button that reads Invasive, No Uses
Sword fern plant pulled up to show its roots

The invasive sword fern is a sneaky plant, as it looks almost exactly like a Florida native fern. To make matters worse, they share a common name—sword fern!

There are two native sword ferns: Nephrolepis exaltata is Florida’s native sword fern (but is also known as wild Boston fern) and Nephrolepis biserrata, giant sword fern.

The invasive sword fern lookalike is sometimes called tuberous sword fern (Nephrolepis cordifolia) and can take over and displace all other ferns, groundcovers and low-growing plants by forming impenetrable dense stands. To make matters worse, there’s also Asian sword fern (Nephrolepis brownii) also not native but widespread.

Luckily, there are a few signs you can look for in order to distinguish the unwelcome imposters. These publications from UF/IFAS can help you distinguish the good from the bad!

And for more on the “good guys,” read our article Fabulous Ferns.

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