*The following is based on Gann, G.D., K.A. Bradley & S.W. Woodmansee. 2002. Rare Plants of South Florida: Their History, Conservation, and Restoration. The Institute for Regional Conservation: Miami. For updated species accounts, see Citation below. For the original text, follow the link in the Update field. If no Update field is displayed, then cite as the original publication.


Neurodium lanceolatum (L.) F�e

Ribbon fern


South Florida Status: Extirpated. Last collected in 1960 on Key Largo.

Taxonomy: Pteridophyte; Polypodiaceae.

Habit: Perennial epiphytic herb.

Distribution: Native to South Florida, the West Indies, Mexico, and Central America.

South Florida Distribution: Miami-Dade County.

South Florida Habitats: Mangrove swamps; epiphytic on mangrove trees.

Protection Status: Listed as endangered by FDACS and as critically imperiled by FNAI.

Aids to Identification: Nelson (2000) has a color photo; Wunderlin & Hansen (2000) has illustrations.

References: Chapman, 1883; Safford, 1912; Small, 1918a; Small, 1931b; Small, 1938; Lakela & Long, 1976; Long & Lakela, 1976; Correll & Correll, 1982; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 1993; Wunderlin, 1998; Coile, 2000; Liogier & Martorell, 2000; Nelson, 2000; Wunderlin & Hansen, 2000.

Synonyms: Paltonium lanceolatum (L.) C. Presl.; Taenitis lanceolata (L.) Kaulf.



Historical Context: Allan H. Curtiss discovered ribbon fern on the edge of Old Rhodes Key along Caesar’s Creek in 1881 (s.n., GH, NY, US), in what is now Biscayne National Park. A single plant was seen (Curtiss, 1904). John Kunkel Small (1918a, 1931, 1938) reported it for Elliott Key, but we have been unable to verify this station. There is no indication that Small observed or collected ribbon fern on Elliott Key.

Apparently a Mr. Pendergrast discovered ribbon fern on Key Largo in 1960 and took it to Fred Fuchs, Jr., a local orchid grower, for identification (Delchamps, 1962; Avery’s Notes, 2 February 1973). Later that year, C. Eugene Delchamps and Thomas Darling, Jr. observed ribbon fern on Key Largo (Darling, 1962; Delchamps, 1962), most likely in what is now Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge. According to both authors, the plant or plants were sterile. Delchamps maintained that there was more than one plant, while Darling was very specific that only one individual was present. Delchamps collected what was apparently the last specimen from a red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) tree and took it home for cultivation and vouchering (s.n., FLAS, US). Don Keller reported seeing one large plant around 1960 on North Key Largo, but this was gone by 1970 (personal communication, 8 February 2001). Subsequent surveys by Keller on North Key Largo, Old Rhodes Key, and Totten Key failed to yield any plants. Ribbon fern was apparently extirpated, at least in part, from collecting by botanists.

Comments: Nevrodium lanceolatum is an orthographic variant.


Recommendations: · Consider reintroduction to Old Rhodes Key in Biscayne National Park. · Consider introduction to North Key Largo in Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge. · Review FNAI rank.