Fishbone Fern

Environmental Weed
Botanical name:
Nephrolepis cordiflora

Fishbone Fern
Photo: Ku-ring-gai Council


A native of South-eastern Queensland, Fishbone Fern is a groundcover with fronds up to 1m high. It forms large clumps growing outwards from a central core within a short time. Many water tubers are attached to the dense rhizome network. Tiny brown spores are on the underside of fronds.


Its spores, held on the underside of the frond, are spread by wind. It is also spread by water and dumping. It spreads vegetatively from its thin wiry underground rhizomes.

Impact on bushland

The root system spreads effectively to seal off the soil surface and reduce the penetration of rainwater. It effectively outcompetes other groundcovers.



  • The whole plant is easily dug out.
  • The water tubers will not regrow, but as they are closely attached to the thin rhizome network, it is best to remove the entire root system.
  • Dispose of carefully and systematically weed out new regrowth.

See Manual Weed Control Techniques.

Chemical: Please contact your local control authority for advice on chemical control.

Similar species

  • Native ferns such as Rasp Fern (Doodia aspera). Sickle Fern and Pelleaea falcata - see the Look-a-likes booklet

Source: Pittwater Council

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