Japanese climbing fern
Lygodium japonicum (Thunb.) Sw.
  • LEAVES: rachis of leaves (fronds) climb by twining (stems are below-ground rhizomes); Lygodium has the longest leaves of any plant in the world; pinnae are once to twice (to thrice) compound, deltoid or lanceolate in outline, fertile pinnae bearing sporangia on small marginal lobes; spores mature in fall
  • FLOWER: fertile and sterile pinnules
  • FRUIT:
  • STEMS: rhizomes (subterranean)
  • FORM: high-climbing herbaceous vine, climbs by twining of the frond rachis; can also form mats on the ground and cover low vegetation
  • HABITAT: mesic forests and especially abundant on forest edges
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Facultative (FAC): Occurs in wetlands or non-wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: mesic forests and especially abundant on forest edges
    [Global Range Map]  [U.S. Range Map]
  • USES: floral arrangements, pressed plant art; reportedly preferred forage for cows in rangelands
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. herbaceous fern with long, climbing to sprawling fronds, climbing by twining of the rachis
    2. pinnae once to twice compound, distinctive difference between fertile and sterile pinnae

    NOTE: American climbing fern (Lygodium palmatum) has palmately compound pinnules