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Lygodium microphyllum (Old World Climbing Fern)
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Research Scientist Robert Pemberton amidst a pre-biocontrol Lygodium outbreak.

 

Old world climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum) is an invasive weed that threatens many wetland communities, including the Everglades. The fern entered Florida as a commercial ornamental plant and was first documented to have become naturalized in 1965, however its explosive growth and rapid spread are relatively recent and causing concern.

 

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Image from Volin, J.C., Kruger, E.L., Volin, V.C. et al. Plant Ecol (2010) 208: 223. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11258-009-9700-6

 

L. microphyllum is native to wet areas in the Old World tropics and subtropics from west Africa to eastern and southern Africa, and eastern India through south-east Asia to northern Australia and the Pacific to Tahiti.

 

L. microphyllum is considered to be a good target for biological control for several reasons:

  1. It belongs to a taxonomically isolated group, not closely related to native or economic plants in Florida.
  2. It is not known to be a weed in its native range, apart from an unconfirmed report of weedy tendencies in Malaysia.
  3. Non-biological control methods are environmentally damaging and too expensive to use on the scale required to control it.

 

The UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants has created this excellent short educational video with more information