Nephrolepis - Nephrolepidaceae

Nephrolepis undulata (Afzel.) J. Sm.

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: BT. Wursten

Photo: BT. Wursten

Photo: BT. Wursten

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Aspidium undulatum Afzel. ex Sw.
Nephrolepis tuberosa (Bory ex Willd.) C.Presl var. undulata (Afzel. ex Sw.) Mett. ex Kuhn
Nephrolepis cordifolia (L.) C.Presl var. undulata (Afzel. ex Sw.) C.Chr.
Nephrolepis cordifolia (L.) C.Presl var. compacta Bonap.

Common name


Rhizome short, erect, with long stolons, in places producing elliptical tubers, up to 25 mm long, from which new plants arise. Fronds few, tufted, erect, herbaceous. Stipe up to 16 cm long, brown, with sparse narrowly lanceolate, entire, brown scales up to 4 mm long, glabrous with age. Lamina up to 90 × 11 cm, narrowly elliptic to lanceolate in outline, pinnate, lower pinnae gradually reduced. Pinnae sessile, articulated, closely spaced or overlapping, narrowly oblong in outline, base cordate and auricled or lobed on the acroscopic side, overlapping on to the rhachis, apex rounded to pointed, both surfaces glabrous, margins entire or crenate, veins free, ending in an inconspicuous submarginal hydathode. Rhachis stramineous to pale brown, glabrous to subglabrous. Sori c. 1.5 mm wide, semi-lunulate, set in a submarginal line along both sides of the pinnae; indusia facing the margin, semi-lunulate, membranous, entire.



undulata: wavy, unclear reference, possibly describing the pinna margins.


Terrestrial along forest margins in montane grassland, in riverine forest, in swampy areas, along seepage lines, in pockets of humus on rocky cliff faces.

Distribution worldwide

Worldwide, widespread in Africa and tropical Central and South America.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Benin, Burkina Fasso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Dem. Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (incl. Bioko), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan and South Sudan, Tanzania , Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Epiphytic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Pages 204 - 205. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 322 - 323. (Includes a picture).
  • Kornas, J. (1979) Distribution and ecology of the Pteridophytes in Zambia. Polska Akademia Nauk Wydzial II Nauk Biologicznych. Pages 117 - 118.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 111. As N. cordifolia
  • Roux, J.P. (2009) Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands. Strelitzia 23, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Page 148.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta. Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 162. (Includes a picture).
  • Tardieu-Blot, M.-L. (1964) Ptéridophytes vol.3. Flore du Cameroun, Pages 109 - 110. (Includes a picture).
  • Thardieu-Blot, M.L. (1964) Ptéridophytes vol.8. Flore du Gabon, Pages 86 - 87. (Includes a picture).