Family: Lygodiaceae (Climbing Family)
Duration and Habit: Perennial Fern
Perennial viney fern, climbing and twining, to 90 feet (30 m) long, with lacy finely divided leaves along green to orange to Black wiry vines, often forming mats of shrub- and tree-covering infestations. Tan-brown fronds persisting in winter, while others remain green in Florida and in sheltered places further north. Vines arising as branches from underground, widely creeping rhizomes that are slender, Black, and wiry.
Native Lookalikes: Currently no information available, or there are no native species that could be confused with Japanese climbing fern.
Ecological Threat: This vine-like fern, once established, and if left uncontrolled, will shade out entire trees. Also produces a thick ground cover preventing native seed germination.
Biology & Spread: Produces alternating generations of vegetative and reproductive plants. The reproductive generation is rarely visible, and consists of smaller leaflets with sporangia along the undersides of the margin. Spores are wind- as well as equipment-dispersed. Japanese climbing fern is a perennial vine-like fern that repeatedly grows back from rhizomes. It can reach lengths of 90 feet.
History: Native to Asia and tropical Australia and introduced from Japan in 1930s. First discovered in Georgia. An ornamental still being spread by unsuspecting gardeners. Based on herbarium records, Japanese climbing fern was first discovered in Texas in 1937 in Orange County.
U.S. Habitat: Occurs along highway right-of-ways, especially under and around bridges, invading into open forests, forest road edges, and stream and swamp margins. Scattered in open timber stands and plantations, but can increase in cover to form mats, smothering shrubs and trees. Persists and colonizes by rhizomes and spreads rapidly by wind-dispersed spores. Dies back in late winter with dead vines providing a trellis for reestablishment. Also found in sunny or shady locations, usually in damp areas such as the edges of swamps, marshes, lakes, creeks, hammocks, and upland woodlands.
U.S. Nativity: Introduced to U.S.
Native Origin: E. Asia -temp. (Bailey, L.H. and E.Z. Bailey, Hortus Third: A Concise Dictionary of Plants Cultivated in the United States and Canada, MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc., New York , (1977).); NatureServe Explorer
U.S. Present: AL, AR, FL, GA, HI, LA, MS, NC, PR, SC, TX
Distribution: Located in the Southeastern U.S., from the Carolinas south to Florida, along the Gulf Coast to Texas and Arkansas. Isolated populations exist in the Lower Galveston Bay watershed in Harris and Liberty counties. Based on herbarium records, Japanese climbing fern was first discovered in Texas in
1937 in Orange County. According to USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service
records from 2004, this exotic plant is known to occur in nine counties in southeast Texas.
If you believe you have found Japanese climbing fern, please report this species.
List All Observations of Lygodium japonicum reported by Citizen Scientists
Easily confused with Lygodium microphyllum, another invasive climbing fern or peppervine (Ampelopsis arborea), which is a native species. Texas alternatives include Southern maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris), Turks' cap (Malvaviscus arboreus), and American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana).
Eradication of Japanese climbing fern is difficult because of the large rhizome root system and the rapid germination from spores. Prescribed burns will eliminate aerial portions, but will not stop resprouting. Herbicides containing glyphosate offer the best choice for eradication of established infestations. A recommended foliar spray mix is 1 to 2 percent of either Garlon 4, Garlon 3A, Accord Concentrate, or Rodeo (Dow AgroSciences). Another effective herbicide is Escort (Dupont) at 1 to 2 oz per acre in water and as a mixture with a glyphosate herbicide. Add 1/4 to 1/2 percent surfactant to improve wetting and penetration. Young plants should be pulled by hand. Extremely large infestations should be cut or mowed, applying herbicide to new growth.USE PESTICIDES WISELY: ALWAYS READ THE ENTIRE PESTICIDE LABEL CAREFULLY, FOLLOW ALL MIXING AND APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS AND WEAR ALL RECOMMENDED PERSONAL PROTECTIVE GEAR AND CLOTHING. CONTACT YOUR STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE FOR ANY ADDITIONAL PESTICIDE USE REQUIREMENTS, RESTRICTIONS OR RECOMMENDATIONS. MENTION OF PESTICIDE PRODUCTS ON THIS WEB SITE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE ENDORSEMENT OF ANY MATERIAL.
Langeland, K.A. and K. Craddock Burks (ed.). 1998. Identification and Biology of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas. University of Florida, Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences. 165 pp.
The Quiet Invasion: A Guide to Invasive Plants of the Galveston Bay Area. Lisa Gonzalez and Jeff DallaRosa. Houston Advanced Research Center, 2006.
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