Fern native to Hawaii and widespread in the tropics with erect tufts of stiff, once pinnate fronds 2-5 feet long and 3-6 inches broad on a short vertical stem. The spore bearing cases (sporangia) are in circular clusters (sori) distributed in a row near each edge of the underside of leaflets .
Click on the language to view common names.
Common Names in Afrikaans:
Common Names in English:
Boston Fern, Boston Sword Fern, Boston Swordfern, Curly Boston Fern, Fluffy Ruffle Fern, Kupukupu, Sword Fern, Wild Boston Fern
, epiphytic, or on rock. Stems ascending
, bearing wiry stolons and sometimes underground tubers. Leaves monomorphic
not swollen; vascular bundles
more than 3, arranged in an arc, ± round
. Blade narrowly elliptic
to linear-lanceolate, 1-pinnate (to 4--5-pinnate in various cultivated forms), very gradually reduced distally to minute pinnatifid
apex, often seemingly indeterminate with apex never expanded, herbaceous to papery
. Pinnae articulate
to rachis, sometimes deciduous, segment (pinna) margins
, or biserrate
pinnae (usually several pairs) slightly to greatly reduced, sessile, equilateral
with basiscopic base excised and often an acroscopic
; costae adaxially grooved
not continuous from rachis to costae; indument
of linear-lanceolate scales
and sometimes multicellular
and sometimes adaxial
surfaces. Veins free
. Sori ± round; indusia round-reniform and with deep sinus
to semicircular with broad sinus or lunate
without sinus and seemingly laterally attached, persistent
. Spores brownish, tuberculate
Species 25--30: widespread in tropical areas.
Nephrolepis often has veins ending in hydathodes and whitish lime-dots adaxially.
Cultivars of Nephrolepis occasionally are found in the wild, where they persist for some time. Numerous forms of N. exaltata cv. `Bostoniensis' and its derivatives are widely cultivated, and the following are known from Florida: N. exaltata cv. `Bostoniensis', N. exaltata cv. `Elegantissima' complex , N. exaltata cv. `Florida Ruffles', N. exaltata cv. `M. P. Mills'.
Species Nephrolepis exaltata
, concolored. Tubers absent. Leaves 4--15 ×
0.5--1.2 dm. Petiole
0.2--4 dm, sparsely to moderately scaly
brown to reddish brown, concolored. Blade
sparsely to moderately scaly abaxially near costae and adaxially.
Rachis 2.4--16.3 dm, points
of pinna attachment 7.3--21 mm apart;
scales moderately spaced, pale to dark brown, essentially concolored
indistinctly paler; hairs
absent. Central pinnae deltate-oblong,
slightly to distinctly falcate
, 2.3--7.4 × 0.6--1.8 cm, base
to truncate-auriculate or auriculate
, occasionally overlapping
deltate to acute, margins serrulate
acute to deltate; costae adaxially glabrous. Indusia reniform
horseshoe-shaped, attached at narrow or broad sinus
, 1--1.7 mm wide.
Nephrolepis exaltata is occasionally found farther north in the flora , but only as an escape from cultivation. Nephrolepis exaltata is usually confused with N. cordifolia when sterile ; the latter species can be distinguished by its distinctly bicolored , adaxial rachis scales. These bicolored scales will distinguish N. cordifolia from all of the other species, even in the absence of other key features. [source]
Flowers: Bloom Period: n/a • Flower Color: inconspicuous, none
Foliage: Gorgeous foliage with ruffled edges .
Growth Rate: Fast. • Size: 24-36" tall.
Care: Cat-safe. Dog-safe. Feed lightly as new growth appears. Protect from frost.
Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 3,037 meters (0 to 9,964 feet).
Culture: Space 12-15" apart.
Soil: Minimum pH: 5.6 • Maximum pH: 6.0
Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Bright indirect or filtered light.
Moisture: Water Requirements: Keep evenly moist but not soggy at all times. Loves to be misted.
Temperature: Cold Hardiness: 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11. (map)
- Whittaker & Margulis,1978
- Haeckel, 1866
- Cavalier-Smith, 1981
- Sinnott, 1935 ex Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Vascular Plants
- Kenrick & Crane, 1997, Nom. Nud.
- Cronquist et al.
- Schott, 1834
- Boston fern [Greek nephros, kidney, and lepis, scale, in reference to shape of the indusia]
- Specific epithet:
- (L.) Schott
up to the publication of Icones
- Botanical name: - Nephrolepis exaltata (L.) Schott
- Form: l literature up to the publication of Icones
- Specific epithet: exaltata - (L.) Schott
- Genus: Nephrolepis () - Schott, 1834 - Boston fern [Greek nephros, kidney, and lepis, scale, in reference to shape of the indusia]
- Family: Lomariopsidaceae () - Alston
- Order: Polypodiales () - Link
- Class: Polypodiopsida () - Cronquist et al.
- Infraphylum: Moniliformopses () - Kenrick & Crane, 1997, Nom. Nud.
- Subphylum: Euphyllophytina ()
- Phylum: Tracheophyta () - Sinnott, 1935 ex Cavalier-Smith, 1998 - Vascular Plants
- Subkingdom: Viridaeplantae () - Cavalier-Smith, 1981
- Kingdom: Plantae () - Haeckel, 1866 - Plants
Aspidium exaltatum (L.) Schkuhr • Hypopeltis exaltata (L.) Bory • Nephrodium exaltatum (L.) Desv. • Nephrodium exaltatum (L.) Kunth • Nephrodium exaltatum (L.) R. Br. • Polypodium exaltatum Linnaeus • Syst. Nat. Ed. 10
Status: Accepted Name
Last scrutiny: 15-Mar-2000
Members of the genus Nephrolepis
ZipcodeZoo has pages for 34 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus:
N. averyi (Avery's Swordfern) · N. biserrata (Giant Sword Fern) · N. biserrata 'Macho' (Macho Fern) · N. cordifolia (Boston Fern) · N. cordifolia var. Lemon Buttons (Button Sword Fern) · N. cordifolia 'Duffii' (Fishbone Fern) · N. cordifolia 'Timmii' (Timm's Petticoat Fern) · N. exaltata (Boston Fern) · N. exaltata cordifolia (Boston Swordfern) · N. exaltata var. bostoniensis (Boston Fern) · N. exaltata var. Fluffy Ruffles (Sword Fern) · N. exaltata var. Whitmanii (Boston Fern) · N. exaltata 'Aurea' (Golden Boston Fern) · N. exaltata 'Bostoniensis' (Boston Fern) · N. exaltata 'Bostoniensis Aureus' (Golden Boston Fern) · N. exaltata 'Fluffy Ruffles Upright' (Boston Fern) · N. exaltata 'Ruth' (Ruth Fern) · N. exaltata 'Shadow Lace' (Boston Fern) · N. exaltata 'Suzi Wong' (Boston Swordfern) · N. exaltata 'Tiger Fern' (Boston Fern) · N. falcata (Fish Tail Swordfern) · N. falcata 'Fancy Frill' (Fishtail Fern) · N. falcata 'Furcans' (Furcans Fishtail Fern) · N. hirsutula (Scaly Swordfern) · N. laurifolia (Laurel-Leaf Swordfern) · N. multiflora (Asian Swordfern) · N. obliterata (Australian Sword Fern) · N. obliterata 'Kimberly Queen' (Australian Sword Fern) · N. obliterata 'Medusa' (Australian Sword Fern) · N. pectinata (Basket Fern) · N. rivularis (Streamside Swordfern) · N. undulata (Annual Swordfern) · N. x (Avery's Swordfern) · N. × averyi (Avery's Swordfern)
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Accessed through GBIF Data Portal November 19, 2007:
- Australian National Herbarium
- , Australian National Herbarium
- Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Bishop Museum Natural History Specimen Data
- Biologiezentrum der Oberoesterreichischen Landesmuseen, Biologiezentrum Linz
- GBIF-Spain, CUBA:Herbario del Jardín Botánico Nacional, La Habana, Cuba: HAJB-Pteridophyta
- GBIF-Spain, Jardi Botanic de Valencia: VAL
- Herbier de la Guyane, Herbier de la Guyane
- Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri Botanical Garden
- National Herbarium of New South Wales, Plants of Papua New Guinea
- Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum
- USDA PLANTS, USDA PLANTS Database
- University of Alabama Biodiversity and Systematics, Herbarium
- Biodiversity Heritage Library NamebankID: 2644733
- Catalogue of Life Accepted Name Code: ITS-17605
- Global Biodiversity Information Facility Taxonkey: 2481187
- Globally Unique Identifier: urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:102518-3
- GRIN Nomen Number: 25202
- Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Taxonomic Serial Number (TSN): 17605
- International Plant Names Index (IPNI) ID: 17160830
- MoBot NameID: 26602326
- Natural Heritage Network Species Identifier: PPDAV01030
- U.S.D.A. Plant Symbol: NEEX
- Zipcode Zoo Species Identifier: 49921
- Clifton E. Nauman "Nephrolepis". in Flora of North America Vol. 2. Oxford University Press. Online at EFloras.org. [back]
- "Nephrolepis exaltata". in Flora of North America Vol. 2. Oxford University Press. Online at EFloras.org. [back]
- Mean = 274.720 meters (901.312 feet), Standard Deviation = 845.680 based on 99 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]