Tectaria incisa

incised halberd fern

Nonnative to FloridaFISC Category 1 Invasive

Species Overview

Native to: Mexico, Central and South America, West Indies

Introduced to Florida in the 1920s as an ornamental, it is occasionally found growing in swamps and wet hammocks, as well as terrestrial or on limestone outcrops in South Florida. Thought to have possibly escaped cultivation via dumping of yard waste. This invasive fern can be mistaken for the rare Florida native, broad halberd fern.

Species Characteristics

Family: Tectariaceae

Habit: terrestrial or epilithic fern. Rhizomes stout, short-creeping, with brownish black scales.

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: 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).

Distribution in Florida: South, reported from Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties.


Invades sensitive habitats in South Florida and can create dense ground cover reducing native plant diversity.

Control Methods

Preventive Measures

Do not plant. Properly dispose of yard waste.


Replace in the landscape with native ferns.


None known.


More research needed, Consult your local UF IFAS Extension for further assistance with management recommendations.

Learn more about this species

UF IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas

FLIP: Tectaria incisa

Atlas of Florida Plants


USDA Plant Database

View records and images from University of Florida Herbarium