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Japanese Climbing Fern

About Japanese Climbing Fern

The Japanese Climbing Fern is a perennial viney fern, climbing and twining to 90 feet (30 m) long, with lacy, finely divided leaves along green to orange to black wiry vines, often forming mats of shrub- and tree-covering infestations.

Tan-brown fronds persist in winter, while others remain green in northern sheltered places. Vines rise as branches from underground, widely creeping rhizomes that are slender, black, and wiry.


Japanese climbing fern occurs along highway right-of-ways, especially under and around bridges, invading into open forests, forest road edges, and stream and swamp margins.

Scattered in open timber stands and plantations, the fern can increase in cover to form mats, smothering shrubs and trees. It persists and colonizes by rhizomes and spreads rapidly by wind-dispersed spores. The fern dies back in late winter with dead vines providing a trellis for reestablishment.


Thoroughly wet all leaves with one of the following herbicides in water with a surfactant (July to October):

  • Arsenal AC* as a 1-percent solution (4 ounces per 3-gallon mix)
  • Garlon 3A, Garlon 4, or a glyphosate herbicide as a 2-percent solution (8 ounces per 3-gallon mix)
  • Escort* at 1 to 2 ounces per acre in water (0.3 to 0.6 dry ounces per 3-gallon mix). 

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