FLIP: Florida Invasive Plants

Lygodium japonicum

Common Name(s): Japanese climbing fern


Eastern Asia

Ecological Impact

Forms dense canopies that can eliminate underlying vegetation by blocking out sunlight and is considered to be a fire threat to trees.   This plant can completely  change an entire ecosystem by replacing native fauna and flora.  It can be found in shady or sunny damp areas in yards or along the road; as well as on the edges of lakes, creeks, hammocks, and upland woodlands. Spores are spread year round.  Listed as a Category I invasive species by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC). 


A climbing fern that can grow up to 90 feet long with lacey fronds along green to orange to black vines (rachis). Fronds (leaves) are compound and opposite and triangular.  Fronds are fingerlike projections around the margins that produce sporangia in two rows under the margins (Miller, Chambliss, and Loewenstein, 2010). 

Identification Tips

Look for a green vine that seems to "climb" and has lacey, triangluar fronds.  May resemble Old World climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum) which are not characterized by 5-7 palmately lobed, fingerlike fronds.


Introduced to Florida from Japan in 1932 as an ornamental plant (Langeland and Burks, 1998).

Florida Range

Found throughout the state of Florida, excluding the Keys.

Prevention/Management Strategies

Do not plant.  Monitor and report populations.  To prevent distribution of spores, do not drive equipment through the vines. 


Most photos courtesy of the Atlas of Florida Plants; click for additional plant details.

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Florida Invasive Plants