Scientific name

Microsorum Link

Common names

Java fern



Could be confused with


Native distribution

tropical Asia

Species commonly cultivated

Microsorum pteropus (Blume) Copel. (India to Papua New Guinea)

M. brassii Copel. (Papua New Guinea)

Adventive distribution


Weed status

not weedy


amphibious, rhizomatous, creeping, commonly growing on rocks and logs

Brief description

Perennial fern. Rhizome creeping, occasionally branching, roots numerous, bearing dense mat of short brown scales. Leaves erect, regularly spaced along rhizome, usually simple, but if emersed, commonly 3- or 5-lobed; leaf blades or lobes linear to lanceolate; margin entire. Sporangia present on abaxial surface of fertile, emersed leaves (fronds). Small plantlets arise from leaf tips on both submersed and emersed fronds. Dispersal by spores, stem fragments and plantlets.

Natural habitat

Shade or full sun

Additional comments

A large genus of over 60 species throughout Asia and Australasia, Microsorum contains only a few aquatic species. Microsorum brassii (often called 'narrow-leaved Java fern') is much smaller than M. pteropus and has narrower leaves. It is rarely cultivated. Several cultivated varieties of M. pteropus are available, including varieties ‘Windeløv’ and 'Tropica'. If a single leaf fragment is left in water, numerous new plantlets will develop from the leaf underside.