Nephrolepis exaltata (L.) Schott, Gen. Fil. pl. 3 pl. 3 1834. (Syn: Aspidium exaltatum (L.) Sw.; Aspidium exaltatum (L.) Schkuhr; Hypopeltis exaltata (L.) Bory; Nephrodium exaltatum (L.) R. Br.; Nephrodium exaltatum (L.) Desv.; Nephrodium exaltatum (L.) Kunth; Polypodium exaltatum L.; Aspidium flagelliferum Roxb. ; Davallia falcata Sm.Nephrolepis cultrifolia C.PreslNephrolepis dentata Goldm.Nephrolepis exaltata var. bostoniensis Davenp.Nephrolepis exaltata var. exauriculata F.Muell.Nephrolepis exaltata f. fallax DominNephrolepis exaltata f. muscosa CluteNephrolepis exaltata var. normalis KuntzeNephrolepis neglecta Kunze ) as per POWO;
Tropical & Subtropical America: Arizona, Bahamas, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil North, Brazil Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Florida, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Leeward Is., Louisiana, Mexico Gulf, Nicaragua, Panamá, Puerto Rico, Texas, Turks-Caicos Is.; Introduced into: Algeria, Azores, Bangladesh, Canary Is., Hawaii, India, Kermadec Is., Line Is., Morocco, Portugal, Queensland, St.Helena, Tanzania, Tubuai Is., Western Australia as POWO;
Location-Place, Altitude, GPS-Private garden Pune
Habitat- Garden/ Urban/ Wild/ Type-Garden
Plant Habit-Tree/ Shrub/ Climber/ Herb- Potted plant
Height/Length- about 1.5 ft
Leaves Type/ Shape/ Size-look like fern tightly packed
flowers and fruits not seen

It is a fern. Could you supply photographs of the underside of the leaves showing the sori to allow a fuller identification? It appears to be Polypodiaceae or something very similar.

I tried but it did not show sori

This looks like one of the hybrids of Nephrolepis exaltata

Can it be Nephrolepis exaltata (sword fern, kupukupu)

can this be Nephrolepis exaltata var. whitmanii 

Yes this is.


Would like to share pictures of Ferns in my garden

Is it possible to grow new ferms from the spores? I tried once but failed. Please let me know.

its possible but you need to grown then in culture media and then transfer !! quite hard to grown them naturally

I think this is Nephrolepis cordifolia

The photo is a very fine – prize-winning – specimen of a Nephrolepis. It may well be N. exaltata, a tropical American species, widely cultivated and with many ornate and fancy cultivars as well. However I seem to have mislaid my copy of the monograph, so can’t look up the details until I find it. Maybe you can find the well known journal in a library: Hovenkamp, P.H. & Miyamoto, A conspectus of the native and naturalised species of Nephrolepis (Nephrolepidaceae) in the world, Blumea 50: 279-322.
The stipe and rachis scales are very important in this genus – and are not shown in the photographs. It is not N. cordifolia, of course. I will check N. exaltata and also N. falciformis when I can remember where on earth I put that monograph!
About fern-spores, they are very widely grown on a large scale in many countries. The big commercial Dutch company, Royal Lemkes [?Lemkas], propagates huge numbers of plantlets from spores in sterile conditions. There is a nice paper in the Fern Gazette, c. 1975 by Professor John Lovis (then at Leeds) on how they grew plants from spores and then hybridised them leading to genome analysis showing the origin of allopolyploid species. In fact there are well known spore-exchanges running internationally, including from the British Pteridological Society and the American one.
The late Professor Reichstein grew large numbers of Asplenium species from spores in Switzerland for cytological and morphological study, and his greenhouses had rows of small pots with large watch-glasses over them, of growing spores and sporelings. I myself also grew large numbers of Dryopteris for hybridisation during my Ph.D. research and they are usually easy to grow from spores.
While some people use agar plates or tubes, these are subject to fungal infections rather easily, and for most species there is actually no real need to do that. Most people simply sterilise the soil by pouring on boiling water in little small pots, when cool, sprinkle the spores, then cover the pots with a watch-glass and don’t allow them to dry off – stand in a saucer of water from time to time. Those that get badly infected with algae and moss protonema can be thrown away, or the prothalli separated when large enough. Mature prothalli need some water drops or more to sit on the surface when they are ready to fertilise. Sporelings can be “pricked out” (separated) into slightly larger pots, with four or five individuals, then separated again individually later. Prof. Reichstein used to find that spores grew a lot better in spring-time than in Winter – how do they know when to grow?!
My late father and I grew a nice batch of tree-ferns from spores in Wales when I was about 8 or 9, and several grew to full maturity in our greenhouse over about 20 years. I’ve also seen very fine agar-tube cultivation of the beautiful Cyathea crinita down at the Tropical Botanic Garden Research Institute near Trivandrum. But we also grew it on soil at home in the UK.
Warning! Once you start and get into it, one can’t stop!!! And with spore-exchanges one can grow all sorts of interesting things.

Apologies – when I wrote about it not being N. cordifolia … posting was not there. But actually this present species has a longer pinna etc. than N. cordifolia. N. cordifolia, which is a conserved name, has dark, bicolorous scales on the stipe.

I think this should be Nephrolepis exaltata only. There are many variations in this taxa…

In some varieties of Nephrolepis exaltata I have seen new plant emerging from the tips if they are touching the ground. …, you may try tying some moss on the tip. By the way, this grows so luxuriantly, why now just divide the bunch on the base into multiple parts. I used to do the same, but then I got fed up of this fast
growing fern….


is this also fern:
Kindly identify this plant which looks like fern but is much smaller in size

Yes it is a fern (Division – Pteridophyta). This might be a species of Nephrolepis.
I am not sure and please consider this as a clue to go ahead.

Yes this is very well Nephrolepis, the sword fern. Could be a variety of N. exaltata !!
The white spots on the leaf margin is one identifying feature.

This is Nephrolepis exaltata var. whitmanii.

Yes, I quite agree. I think it is the cultivar ‘Bostoniensis’ (“Boston fern”), well known in gardens around the world. It always seems to throw some perfectly normal fronds and some plumose ones simultaneously

oh sorry sir, its my mistake. Yes cv is written differently.

Sending a photo of the Ferns used in Vertical gardening.
Place : Byculla Gardens
Date : February 2010
Habitat : Cultivated

I think this is Nephrolepis exaltata.

Yes, it hardly needs confirming but these two slightly different cultivars (yellow and greeen) are both N. exaltata, originally a native of the Americas, but now cultivated world-wide in many hundreds of gardens, especially as the many different abnormal monstrosities, which constitute various different named cultivars.
The natural species has simple pinnae, but sometimes the plumose (very divided) forms and furcate forms are so different in shape that it is hard to tell which actual species they belong to. However in Nephrolepis the stipe-scales are very helpful and can pinpoint the underlying species even when the shape has become unrecognisable due to these genetic mutations.
Anyway, the fern itself is not very remarkable as it is widely grown, but I must offer my congratulations to the splendid vertical stand they have been arranged in – I have never seen such a fine display in any of the horticultural shows I often visit. If that were shown at the annual Royal Horticultural Show, Chelsea, London, one of the biggest and best known shows, I’m sure it would receive a gold medal. The Queen (of England, I mean) usually goes to visit that show, and Prince Charles is now a patron of the British Pteridological Society (ferns!) and grows many hardy ferns and cultivars in his superb garden at Highgrove, Gloucestershire, so would undoubtedly be very impressed.
Now I understand what “vertical gardening” means – I struggle to be a mere horizontal gardener, out the back of my flat in Kathmandu, though the climate is fairly kind to us, apart from the Winter drought, when there’s also no water in the taps, either!
In the UK there are many very nicely organised fern-gardens, with greenhouses for the tropical species, but this display beats the lot! Perhaps it needs more variation in the species grown, to add to the interest, but the idea and concept are spectacular.


efloraofindia:”For Id 26092011MR5’’ ?tall fern Pune:
Request for identification ?fern

Date sep 2011
Height about 10-11 ft
Fern with long foliage
No sori was seen on the foliage which came out throught the fence

i think a fern nepherolepsis sps

It may be nephrolepis boston

I think it is Nepherolepis exaltata

Yes, it’s a beautiful Nephrolepis exaltata cultivar, but I think not cv. “Bostoniensis” as far as I know. One needs to see the N. American literature on them by Morton and others. Also Hovenkamp’s monograph of Nephrolepis.

Requesting ID of this fern – Jijamata Udyan, Mumbai – Jun 2014 :: 08JUL14 :: ARK-09 : 5 posts by 3 authors. Attachments (2).
Requesting to please ID this fern captured in Jijamata Udyan, Mumbai in June 2014. I have seen it at many other places in gardens.

The fern is Adiantum pedatum

Nephrolepis exaltata cv. ‘Duffii’ – an extraordinary and popularly grown cultivar abnormality of the exotic N. exaltata.

Fern FOR ID :: TMC Biodiversity Park :: 22 APR 18 : 4 posts by 2 authors.
TMC Biodiversity Park  Thane
Date: April 22, 2018 … Altitude: about 15 m (50 feet) asl
Dear friends, please help me with genus level ID of this fern … hopefully these photos give some hint to the garden enthusiasts.

Well we can go quite a lot further than generic level!  It is a well known and commonly commercially cultivated cultivar of an exotic American species, Nephrolepis exaltata cv. ‘Bostoniensis’.  “The Boston Fern“.
It will be nice if your Park collects together as many species of ferns native to the State as can be grown at your altitude. I can help naming them, if needed – as can Botanical Institutes in Maharashtra.

Goa, May 2019 :: Ornamental fern for ID :: ARK2019-49 : 4 posts by 2 authors. Attachments (3)
Saw this fern in a resort in Goa in May 2019.
Is this Nephrolepis biserrata or N. falcata, matches with the images for these 2 species in efi?

This is a cultivar (i.e. a cultivated abnormality) of the American Nephrolepis exaltata, cv. ‘Bostoniensis’, the famous Boston fern. N. falciformis is often cultivated in gardens in India, but is not native and it is often misidentified as N. falcata, not present in India.
N. biserrata has rather different pinnae and inframarginal sori and is native.


Fern for ID : Kenya : 170611 : AK-3:
Taken at Nairobi, Kenya on the 21st of Jan, 2009.

Looks like Nephrolepis exaltata ?

I also think Nephrolepis exaltata

Yes, it’s another abnormality, maintained as a cultivar and is most probably derived from the American species, N. exaltata, as you say.  I don’t know a name for this particular cultivar, but many of them were illustrated by the late Barbara-Jo Hoshizaki in her well known book, and also in some Japanese Coffee-table books of cultivars.
There are very many different ones and they are of major commercial importance in horticulture – the big nursery-companies in Holland, such as Lemkes, also sell many of them.


Fern for ID : 170111 : AK-1:
This was taken at Sri Lanka during November, 2010.

Nephrolepis biserrata var. furcans indeed

This looks close to … recent post from Goa.
Nephrolepis biserrata var. furcans  was suggested by …

To me also appears close to Nephrolepis exaltata, cv. ‘Bostoniensis’ as identified by … in … recent post from Goa.

That’s a very fine photo of a very splendid and quite typical plant of the very well known cultivar N. exaltata cv. ‘Bostoniensis.  It is not similar to N. biserrata, as suggested (apart from that most Nephrolepis species look generally similar). The sori and their position and the shape of the pinna-bases and their texture is quite different – even though it is always difficult to relate abnormal genetic mutants to the natural wild species.

     I’d suggest studying the generally rather good Nephrolepis monograph by Hovenkamp & Miyamoto (2005) and looking at authentically identified N. biserrata in a good herbarium (remembering many herbaria also have many mididentifications by less experienced workers as well), in Floras etc. \
       I expect the name N. biserrata var. furcans (who described that?) may well be an erroneous name and needs reidentification (from its type), but I have not looked into that.  There is a Moore name, N. davalliodes var furcans, which is a synonym of N. biserrata, but it does not apply to the present plant.
     Here is part of my note from Indian Checklist 3 (in prep.), An annotated Checklist of Indian Pteridophytes vol. 3, that may help re some of the many known cultivars in several species – in this case under the account of the American species, N. exaltata:
The natural plant is rather more handsome in its flatter fronds and close pinnae than its many abnormal cultivars, but is less often cultivated. The species seldom escapes from cultivation in the Indian region, but sometimes establishes in the wild, at least temporarily, in South India, not too far from parks or gardens.
It is widely cultivated in gardens or as a house-plant throughout the world in the form of various ornate cultivars of much commercial importance, including in India.  These cultivars differ markedly from the norm in degree of lobing and dissection of their pinnae, sometimes being regularly furcate or bifurcate (cv. ‘Bostoniensis’) and sometimes becoming highly dissect.  Many of them often bear occasional throw-back fronds or part-fronds to the normal species, borne on the same plant as the modified fronds.  Several of the cultivars constantly produce no fertile fronds. Morton (1958), Pichi Sermolli (1969), Hoshizaki & Moran (2001) and Hovenkamp & Miyamoto (2005) discussed the origin and specific identity of various cultivars and Morton suggested Nephrolepis exaltata cv. ‘Bostoniensis’ could be of hybrid origin, rather than a mutation of N. exaltata itself, but this requires molecular investigation to help cast further light on its origin.

When identifying species etc. one must have knowledge of the literature and of the various species concerned and their types etc. – it should not be just a matter of a wild guess because a name sounds as if it might apply.  Especially in this case, the plant concerned is so well known in cultivation world-wide, including throughout India.  I hope this comment may help make it and its name better known in the region.

Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’ :: Dattaji Salvi Udyan, Thane :: 11 JAN 20 : 1 post by 1 author. 2 images.
Dattaji Salvi Udyan  Thane
Date: January 11, 2020 … Altitude: about 11 m (36 feet) asl
Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’  



ornamental fern (Hooghly):
Attaching photos of two ornamental ferns, found in the compound of the grower.
Since these are for sharing only, not for ID, i attach both the plants in one mail. i think id can be easily obtained in the net.
I repeat this post is Not a request for id, for the ferns will grow without any Tom, Dick or Harry.

Nephrolepis falcata Forma furcans

OK, no ID – and could not see them all, but at least one is the well known cv. ‘Bostoniensis’, so I’d suggest consulting the works on Nephrolepis cultivars and also the monograph by Hovenkamp before using an incorrect name? Quite a lot has been published on them from Morton and Benedict onwards, and some photo books too.
Incidentally N. falcata, often reported as wild in India, is a mistake – see Hovenkamp.”

Yes Nephrolepis falcata.
The white spots along the margin on the upper surface of leaf is a characteristic of Nephrolepis.


Nephrolepis biserrata from Shimla:
-Yup commonly known as fish tail fern (Syn: Aspidium biserratum Sw.) from order Polypodiales

-The plants next to it is very interestingly called, SONG OF INDIA (Dracaena reflexa). And then there is one more fern, that may be Pteris cretica!

I think it may be some cultivar of Nephrolepis exaltata as per images at

No indeed. Nephrolepis biserrata does NOT occur in the western Indo Himalaya. You need to refer to Fraser Jenkins, Gandhi, Kholia et al., An Annotated Checklist of Indian pteridophytes (vol. 3 for Nephrolepis), to access accurate and first hand information.
The plant you show is a garden grown cultivar of the purely American species, N. exaltata.  As an exotic plant it is not part of the natural flora of India, and if cultivated should not be included in a work along with native species, as it is irrelevant to the Indian Flora. But you merely said “from Simla” which makes it sound like a native, in error.

It is N. exaltata cv. ‘Bostoniensis’, very well known in cultivation worldwide.



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