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Giant sword fern
Nephrolepis biserrata

Copyright by: George D. Gann
In habitat, Miami-Dade County, Florida

General Landscape Uses: Primarily recommended for natural landscapes and habitat restorations. Also a large accent groundcover in moist to wet areas. Identified by Fair Child Tropical Botanic Garden as a native that does especially well in shade in this brochure.

Availability: Grown by one or two native plant nurseries in South Florida.

Description: Large herbaceous fern.

Dimensions: Typically 6-8 feet in height. Spreading from horizontal stems (stolons) and forming large masses.

Growth Rate: Moderate.

Range: Miami-Dade County and the Monroe County mainland north to Martin, Highlands and Lee counties; Louisiana; West Indies, Mexico, Central America, South America and Old World.

Plant Map Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

 Map of suggested ZIP codes from South Florida north to southern Brevard, Osceola, Polk, and Pasco counties.

 Map of ZIP codes with habitat recommendations from the Monroe County Keys north to Martin and Charlotte counties.

Habitats: Moist hammocks and swamps.

Soils: Moist to seasonally wet, well-drained to poorly-drained sandy, limestone, or organic soils, with humusy top layer.

Nutritional Requirements: Moderate; can grow in nutrient poor soils, but needs some organic content to thrive.

Salt Water Tolerance: Low; does not tolerate flooding by salt or brackish water.

Salt Wind Tolerance: Low; salt wind may burn the leaves.

Drought Tolerance: Low; requires moist to wet soils and is intolerant of long periods of drought.

Light Requirements: Light shade.

Flower Color: N/A.

Flower Characteristics: There are no flowers; the plants reproduce by spores.

Flowering Season: All year.

Fruit: Inconspicuous spores.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from divisions or spores.

References: Miami-Dade County Landscape Manual (2005).

Comments: It is listed as threatened by the state of Florida.

Copyright by: George D. Gann
In habitat, Miami-Dade County, Florida

Copyright by: Mike Rosenthal

Copyright by: George D. Gann
In habitat, Miami-Dade County

Other data on Nephrolepis biserrata available from:

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