FLIP: Florida Invasive Plants

Tectaria incisa

Common Name(s): Incised halberd fern


Mexico, Central and South America, West Indies.

Ecological Impact

Considered "often a weedy plant" by Standley (1927) in describing ferns of the Panama Canal Zone, a plant "able to persist in partly denuded areas" of Barro Colorado Island. Also noted by Kenoyer (1928) as remaining common in "pioneer forest" areas on the island 50 years after abandoned agricultural cultivation. Listed as a category I invasive species by Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC).


Terrestrial or epilithic (on rock) in habit. Rhizomes stout, short-creeping, with brownish black scales. Leaves (fronds) pale green, once pinnate, fertile and sterile fronds similar in shape and size. Petioles as long or longer than blades, pale brown above, dark brown and scaly at base, pubescent on both sides; blades to 90 cm (35 in) long and 60 cm (24 in) wides, with a large, deeply lobed terminal leaflet (pinna) and large, downward-pointing (basiscopic) lobe. Sori in 1-several rows on lower surface of leaflets between midvein and margin; indusia (tissue covering sporangia) round-reniform, attached at 1 edge (not centrally attached).

Identification Tips

May be confused with the native T. heracleifolia, which has centrally attached (peltate) indusia; dark green, slightly shiny fronds, with all margins at least shallowly lobed and on each of the basal pinnae at least 2 basiscopic lobes. Other Tectaria species in Florida much smaller in size.


First noted in Florida in the late 1970s. Possibly escaped from cultivation via dumping of yard waste.


Found in the southern region of Florida.

Management Strategies

Do not plant, remove seedlings and root system.


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

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Florida Invasive Plants