Nephrolepis exaltata (L.) Schott

First published in Gen. Fil. (Vindob.): t. 3 (1834)
This species is accepted
The native range of this species is Tropical & Subtropical America. It is an epiphyte and grows primarily in the subtropical biome. It is used as a medicine and has environmental uses.


Biogeografic region: Caribbean, Pacific. Elevation range: 250–2500 m a.s.l. Native to Colombia. Colombian departments: Antioquia, Bogotá DC, Cundinamarca, La Guajira, Valle del Cauca.
Habitat according IUCN Habitats Classification: forest and woodland, savanna, shrubland, artificial - terrestrial.

George R. Proctor (2012). Flora of the Cayman Isands (Second Edition). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Morphology General Habit
Plants terrestrial or occasionally epiphytic. Rhizome short, suberect, concealed by the stout stipe bases, the apex clothed with a dense tuft of narrowly lance-attenuate, glabrous, light orange-brown scales up to 8 mm long and ca. 0.8 mm broad above the base, terminating in a long hair-like apex
Morphology Leaves
Fronds closely clustered, suberect or spreading, up to 2.5 m long (but usually much shorter), the stipes much shorter than the blades (mostly 6–20 cm long), deciduously fibrillose-scaly, the scales spreading, linear-filiform, con- colorous, pale orange-brown, basally attached. Blades linear, mostly 50–100(–200) cm long, 6–14 cm broad near the middle, slightly narrowed toward the base, the apex apparently of indeterminate growth; rhachis light brown, deciduously fibrillose-scaly like the stipe, the scales glabrous; pinnae numerous, close, narrowly oblong or narrowly deltate-oblong and subfalcate, 3–7 cm long, 0.8–1.3 cm broad at the middle, acutish to sub-acuminate at the apex, subcordate and obtusely auriculate at the base, the auricle (on acroscopic side) often overlapping the rhachis, the margins bluntly serrulate to lightly crenate; tissue deciduously fibrillose or else apparently glabrate; veins 1- or 2-forked
Morphology Reproductive morphology Sori
Sori supramedial, rather close; indusium variable, orbicular-cordate to subreniform, the sinus usually open and U-shaped.
Grand Cayman. Often stated to be pantropical, but many specimens with this name in herbaria have been misidentified, or else originated from cultivated or escaped plants. Its probable true natural distribution includes Florida, the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and Mexico.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

LC - least concern

Bernal, R., Gradstein, S.R. & Celis, M. (eds.). 2015. Catálogo de plantas y líquenes de Colombia. Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá.


Bernal, R., G. Galeano, A. Rodríguez, H. Sarmiento y M. Gutiérrez. 2017. Nombres Comunes de las Plantas de Colombia.

aliento de niño, encaje, espárrago fino, helecho churco, helecho crespo, llanto de niño, sueño, sueño de niño


Use Environmental
Environmental uses.
Use Medicines
Medical uses.

Common Names

Boston Fern


  • Catálogo de Plantas y Líquenes de Colombia

  • Flora of the Cayman Islands

    • Flora of the Cayman Islands
  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

    • Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew
  • IUCN Categories

    • IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
  • Kew Backbone Distributions

    • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants 2024. Published on the Internet at and
    • © Copyright 2023 World Checklist of Vascular Plants.
  • Kew Living Collection Database

    • Common Names from Plants and People Africa
  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants 2024. Published on the Internet at and
    • © Copyright 2023 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants.
  • Kew Science Photographs

    • Copyright applied to individual images
  • Universidad Nacional de Colombia

    • ColPlantA database
  • Useful Plants and Fungi of Colombia