Wild Florida Photo
Nature Photography by Paul Rebmann
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SMALL-LEAF CLIMBING FERN
OLD WORLD CLIMBING FERN
Not native to Florida
Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council: Category I designation
This plant is an invasive exotic that is altering native plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structures or ecological functions, or hybridizing with natives.
This species should never be planted (many with this designation are prohibited by law), and generally should be removed whenever possible.
A frequent climbing fern in the southern half of the Florida peninsula, reported as far north as Sumter and Volusia Counties. Native to Africa, Asia and Australia, it is not present elsewhere in North America.
With a twisting and twining growth form that grows to cover all other nearby vegetation, the blades can be up to 10 m (33 ft.) long with alternate, short-stalked pinnate pinnae. The pinnae are from 3 - 14 cm long and 2.5 - 6 cm wide with several pairs of segments. In the sterile pinnae, these are more or less triangular shaped, usually with a rounded tip, although sometimes pointed. Fertile pinnae are lobed, with sori lining the margin undersides and the edges rolled under, creating a frilly appearance.
First reported in south Florida in the mid 1960's, Lygodium microphyllum appeared to remain limited to a relatively small area for over a decade and was still considered rare in Florida. Now the species is spreading aggressively and advancing northward. More information about old world climbing fern, including a video, can be found at the University of Florida Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants website.