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Lygodium microphyllum

Lygodium microphyllum (commonly known as, variously, climbing maidenhair fern,[1] Old World climbing fern,[1] small-leaf climbing fern,[1] or snake fern[citation needed]) is a climbing fern originating in tropical Africa, South East Asia, Melanesia and Australia.[1] It is an invasive weed[4] in the US states of Florida[5] and Alabama[citation needed] where it invades open forest and wetland areas. The type specimen was collected in the vicinity of Nabúa, on the island of Luzon in the Philippines by Luis Née.[6]

Lygodium microphyllum
ARS Lygodium microphyllum foliage.jpg
Underside of spore-bearing leaflets, some leaflets produce spores; others don't.

Secure (NatureServe)
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Class: Polypodiopsida
Order: Schizaeales
Family: Lygodiaceae
Genus: Lygodium
L. microphyllum
Binomial name
Lygodium microphyllum
  • Lygodium scandens auct.
  • L. scandens (L.) Sw.
  • L. scandens var. intermedium Ces.
  • L. scandens var. microphyllum (Cav.) Luerss.
  • Ophioglossum filiforme Roxb.
  • Ugena microphylla Cav. (basionym)


Distribution of the Lygodium microphyllum[7]

Lygodium microphyllum is native to Africa (in Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania (including the Zanzibar Archipelago), Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa); Asia (in Brunei, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, the provinces of Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan of China, and the Ryukyu Islands of Japan); Australia (in Northern Territory, Queensland, northeast New South Wales, and northern Western Australia); and the Pacific islands of Fiji, and Micronesia's Mariana Islands and Caroline Islands.[1]

Lygodium microphyllum has become naturalized in the Caribbean and the southeastern United States.[1]

Effects on the environmentEdit

Lygodium microphyllum causes problems in the environments where it is invasive. The plant damages wetland ecosystems, harming endangered species.[8] The fern's ability to grow up and over trees and shrubs and to form dense horizontal canopies allows it to cover whole communities of plants, reducing native plant diversity. Old World climbing fern can grow in many diverse ecosystems.[9] Lygodium microphyllum poses problems for fires, both natural and man-made, because it can lead fire into the tree canopy, killing trees.[10] The fern is rapidly spreading in South Florida's public conservation lands.[9]


Recently, the USDA approved the use of insects to keep the fern contained. Insects (Austromusotima camptozonale, Neomusotima conspurcatalis) and mites (Floracarus perrepae) have been released in several state parks to control the fern. Although some populations were devastated by a bout of cold weather, recently, reports of new activity have been made.[8]


Lygodium microphyllum has been used locally in folk medicine to treat skin ailments and problems, swelling and dysentery.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h  Under its treatment as Lygodium microphyllum (from its basionym of Ugena microphylla), this species name was published first in Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae 162. 1810. "Lygodium microphyllum". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved November 2, 2011.
  2. ^  Ugena microphylla, the basionym of L. microphyllum, was first described and published in Icones et Descriptiones Plantarum 6: 76, pl. 595, f. 2. 1801. "Ugena microphylla". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved November 2, 2011.
  3. ^ "Name - Ugena microphylla Cav. synonyms". Tropicos. Saint Louis, Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved November 2, 2011.
  4. ^ "Global Fire Initiative: Fire and Invasives". The Nature Conservancy. Archived from the original on 2009-04-12. Retrieved 2008-12-12.
  5. ^ Soti, Pushpa G.; Jayachandran, Krish; Koptur, Suzanne; Volin, John C. (2015). "Effect of soil pH on growth, nutrient uptake, and mycorrhizal colonization in exotic invasive Lygodium microphyllum". Plant Ecology. 216 (7): 989–998. doi:10.1007/s11258-015-0484-6.
  6. ^ "Name - Ugena microphylla Cav". Tropicos. Saint Louis, Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved November 2, 2011.
  7. ^ Volin, John C.; Kruger, Eric L.; Volin, Valeria C.; Tobin, Michael F.; Kitajima, Kaoru (2009). "Does release from natural belowground enemies help explain the invasiveness of Lygodium microphyllum? A cross-continental comparison". Plant Ecology. 208 (2): 223. doi:10.1007/s11258-009-9700-6.
  8. ^ a b Smith, Melissa C; Lake; Pratt; Boughton; Pumberton (June 2014). "Current status of the biological control agent Neomusotima conspurcatalis (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), on Lygodium microphyllum (Polypodiales: Lygodiaceae) in Florida". Florida Entomologist. 97 (2): 817–820. doi:10.1653/024.097.0268. JSTOR 24362579.
  9. ^ a b "Weed alert Old World climbing fern" (PDF). Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
  10. ^ Rayamajhi, Min B; Pratt, Paul D; Leidi, Jorge; Center, Ted D (December 2014). "Austromusotima camptozonale ( Lepidoptera: Crambidae) herbivory results in frond and rhizome mortality of the invasive fern Lygodium microphyllum (Schizaeles: Lygodiaceae)". Florida Entomologist. 97 (4): 1308–1316. doi:10.1653/024.097.0405. JSTOR 24364092.
  11. ^ James A. Duke. "Lygodium microphyllum (SCHIZAEACEAE)". Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. Retrieved November 2, 2011.

External linksEdit


  • Jeffrey T. Hutchinson, Kenneth A. Langeland, Gregory E. MacDonald and Robert Querns, 2010; Absorption and Translocation of Glyphosate, Metsulfuron, and Triclopyr in Old World Climbing Fern (Lygodium microphyllum). Weed Science 58:2, 118-125 Online publication date : 1-Apr-2010 (abstract)