Nephrolepis cordifolia

Tuber ladder fern

Also known as:

Tuber sword fern

Family: Davalliaceae

Origin: Pantropical

Tuber Ladder Fern fronds.
A fast growing fern that is similar to a native ladder fern. Tuber ladder fern are very hardy and can grow in most conditions.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • National Pest Plant Accord Species
  • Whole region — Sustained control

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Tuft-forming fern. Rhizomes and stolons are erect to spreading, produce long runners and have hairy potato-like tubers. Fronds are < 120 x 7 cm, erect, evergreen and pinnate.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell tuber ladder fern. As tuber ladder fern is a National Pest Plant Accord species, these restrictions apply within the Auckland region and across the whole of New Zealand.
  • You must not plant tuber ladder fern within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • You must destroy any tuber ladder fern on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.


Terrestrial, epiphytic or epilithic habitats, forest, rocky outcrops, coastal scrublands, wetland and riparian margins, roadsides, wasteland, urban areas.


Vegetative spread from tubers. Human-mediated dispersal through dumping of garden waste and deliberate plantings.

Impact on environment

Forms dense stands, suppressing native regeneration.


Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig or pull out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: Tubers.

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

Basic Growsafe certified: Foliar spray with 1g metsulfuron-methyl per 10L of water.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Mature Tuber Ladder Fern plant.
It has underground rhizomes and stolons and can grow under the surface of the soil to pop up elsewhere. Tuber ladder fern can grow through gaps in retaining wall timbers and rock walls.
Photo credit: Holly Cox
Tuber Ladder Fern plant pulled from the ground showing tubers.
Tubers and frond bases have red slightly prickly hairs. It can easily grow from a piece of tuber, rhizome or stolon so care must be taken when removing.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow
Close up of Tuber Ladder Fern tubers in soil.
Tuber ladder fern can easily be controlled with herbicide but a herbicide that penetrates into the tubers and rhizomes must be used. It can grow through forest floors and prevent native seeds from germinating.
Photo credit: Holly Cox