Plants of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Genus Nephrolepis
Family Dryopteridaceae

Scientific Name Nephrolepis exaltata
Other Names Sword fern, kupukupu, `okupukupu, pamoho
Status Indigenous
Distribution It is found from sea level to 1,065 m, growing in sun or shade in dry to wet areas (Valier 1995: 76).
General Appearance
These are either epiphytic or terrestrial ferns (Valier 1995: 76).

They are relatively tall.

Puhimau Hot Spot
South-West Rift Zone Sulphur Banks
Fronds and Leaves
These yellowish green fronds are long and narrow.  They may reach over 1 m in length.

Look for a smooth upper surface on the fronds.  The common alien (N. multiflora) has minute hairs on this surface (Valier 1995: 76).

Sulphur Banks
Sulphur Banks 1974 Lava Flow
Mid-Elevation Woodland (on 1974 flow)

Mid-Elevation Woodland (on 1974 flow)

Natural History
Miscellaneous Photos
Other Notes We are pretty sure that the identification of the ferns shown above is correct.  However, we're doing some additional field checking just to be sure.  Note the following identification comments.

Stone and Pratt (1994: 114) indicate that there are two sword ferns, Nephrolepis exaltata and N. multiflora, growing in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, noting that they often occur together and are difficult to tell apart.

Lamoureux (1996: 10-11) says that there are three species in the Park.  His list adds N. cordifolia to those listed by Stone and Pratt.  This species, according to Lamoureux, differs by having a frond width of less than 2 inches, while the other Nephrolepis species are usually over 2.5 inches wide.

References Valier, Kathy, 1995, Ferms of Hawai`i. University of Hawai`i Press, Honolulu, HI.

Lamoureux, Charles H., 1996, Trailside Plants of Hawai`i's National Parks. Hawaii Natural History Association.

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Last Updated: 07/22/02