tuber ladder fernTuber ladder fern

Common name: Tuber sword fern
Botanical name: Nephrolepis cordifolia
Management programme: Advisory

Originally from equatorial/tropical areas around the world. Introduced to New Zealand as an ornamental plant and was naturalised in 1974.

Why is it a pest?

  • Spreads by spores, runners and tubers and forms dense long living patches.
  • Grows in the damp, the dry, on the ground, in trees, light or dark and most soils and temperatures.
  • Crowds out groundcovers, shrubs and other ferns becoming the dominant species.
  • Very often the tubers and runners are spread as dumped vegetation and soil.

Where is it found?

  • Found in disturbed bush and shrubland, gardens, fernland, stream banks, roadsides and coastal forest.
  • Widespread in the Bay of Plenty.

What does it look like?

  • Upright rambling bright-green fern growing up to 1m tall.
  • Leaves are serrated pinnate (on each side of the stem) fronds < 80mm.
  • This plant does not have flowers.
  • It is the only fern with tubers – round, potato-like up to 2cm.

What are the rules?


Council does not enforce the control of advisory species. It is landowner/occupier responsibility to manage these pests. Council may provide advice on how to manage or control advisory species if required.

How do you get rid of it?

  1. Pull out. Dispose of the tubers and runners at the general waste section at the refuse transfer station.
  2. Foliar spray with herbicide.


CAUTION: When using any herbicide or pesticide, PLEASE READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY to ensure that all instructions and directions for the purchase, use and storage of the product, are followed and adhered to.

Read more on pest control advice, information and regulations