Subordinate Taxa
Scientific Name:
Nephrolepidaceae Pic.Serm., Webbia 29: 8 (1975)

Terrestrial, rupestral or epiphytic ferns. Rhizomes erect or short-creeping, scaly, often producing long-creeping runners that form adventitious buds and sometimes bear tubers. Fronds monomorphic, not articulated to the rhizome. Laminae 1-pinnate, herbaceous, scaly and sometimes hairy. Veins free, ending in hydathodes near the lamina margin. Sori round (NZ) to elongate (not NZ), borne on abaxial surface, marginal to medial; paraphyses absent; indusia attached on one side, reniform to lunulate (NZ) or rarely linear (not NZ); sporangial maturation mixed. Sporangia with vertical annulus, usually 64 spores per sporangium. Homosporous; spores monolete, lacking chlorophyll; perispores tuberculate, verrucate or rugose.


A family of one genus and c. 19 species (Hovenkamp & Miyamoto 2005; PPG 1 2016).

Nephrolepis and 11 other genera were originally included within Davalliaceae by Copeland (1947), a classification which was followed in New Zealand by Allan (1961), Brownsey et al. (1985) and Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth (1989). Pichi Sermolli (1975) created the new family Nephrolepidaceae for just three of these genera, Nephrolepis, Arthropteris and Psammiosorus, but the latter two genera are now included in Tectariaceae, leaving Nephrolepidaceae as a monotypic family (Hennequin et al. 2010, PPG 1 2016). Nephrolepis was included in Lomariopsidaceae by Smith et al. (2006) but is now generally treated in Nephrolepidaceae, a family that has been adopted in New Zealand since Brownsey & Smith-Dodsworth (2000).


The family Nephrolepidaceae comprises terrestrial or epiphytic species with erect or short-creeping rhizomes that often produce runners bearing adventitious buds and sometimes tubers. Fronds are monomorphic, 1-pinnate, scaly and sometimes hairy, and bear round to elongate sori that are marginal to medial and protected by reniform, lunulate or linear indusia.


A small family that is pantropical in distribution, but most species are confined either to the Neotropics or to the Paleotropics, with a few extending into the southern temperate zone. The greatest diversity is in the Malesian region (Hovenkamp & Miyamoto 2012).

Indigenous (Non-endemic)
Number of species in New Zealand within Nephrolepidaceae Pic.Serm.
Indigenous (Non-endemic)2
Exotic: Fully Naturalised1
Exotic: Casual1

The name Nephrolepidaceae Pic.Serm. was published in Vol. 29, No. 1 of Webbia. The part is dated 1974 but reprints have been hand-stamped "Pubblicato in data 10. Feb. 1975".

Brownsey, P.J.; Given, D.R.; Lovis, J.D. 1985: A revised classification of New Zealand pteridophytes with a synonymic checklist of species. New Zealand Journal of Botany 23(3): 431–489.
Brownsey, P.J.; Perrie, L.R. 2019: Nephrolepidaceae. In: Breitwieser, I.; Wilton, A.D. (ed.) Flora of New Zealand — Ferns and Lycophytes. Fascicle 26. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln.
Brownsey, P.J.; Smith-Dodsworth, J.C. 1989: New Zealand ferns and allied plants. Bateman, Auckland.
Brownsey, P.J.; Smith-Dodsworth, J.C. 2000: New Zealand ferns and allied plants. Edition 2. David Bateman, Auckland.
Copeland, E.B. 1947: Genera Filicum. Chronica Botanica Co., Waltham, Mass.
Hennequin, S.; Hovenkamp, P.; Christenhusz, M.J.M.; Schneider, H. 2010: Phylogenetics and biogeography of Nephrolepis – a tale of old settlers and young tramps. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 164: 113–127.
Hovenkamp, P.H.; Miyamoto, F. 2005: A conspectus of the native and naturalized species of Nephrolepis (Nephrolepidaceae) in the world. Blumea 50(2): 279–322.
Hovenkamp, P; Miyamoto, F. 2012: Nephrolepidaceae. In: Flora Malesiana, Series II, Ferns and Fern Allies. Vol. 4. 97–122.
Kramer, K.U.; Green, P.S. 1990: Pteridophytes and gymnosperms. Kubitzki, K. (ed.) The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants. Vol. 1. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
Pichi Sermolli, R.E.G. 1975: Fragmenta Pteridologiae V. Webbia 29: 1–16.
PPG 1 2016: A community-derived classification for extant lycophytes. Journal of Systematics and Evolution 54(6): 563–603.
Smith, A.R.; Pryer, K.M.; Schuettpelz, E.; Korall, P.; Schneider, H.; Wolf, P.G. 2006: A classification for extant ferns. Taxon 55(3): 705–731.