Fern Recognition Project

Recognition of Native Ferns in the Field

This is an ongoing project led by Wendy Johnston of the Sunshine Coast Branch, with contributions and advice from members of the Queensland chapter of the ANPSA* Fern Study Group.

The focus of the project is the development of a  set of information sheets designed to aid the recognition of ferns in the field. Each sheet illustrates features of the fern you would expect to see with the naked eye or a lens. It is not a definitive key. Features visible in the field that may distinguish a fern from a similar fern are illustrated where possible.

*ANPSA: Australian Native Plant Society (Australia)

Species recognition in the field is guided by the attributes observed and refined according to the details given in the relevant information sheet(s) . The botanical names underlined in the table below are active links to the information sheets for the species listed. 

Genus and Species


Epi Lith Terr Tree FernRockery G/cover Pend
Adiantum atroviride  Y   
Adiantum diaphanum  Y   
Adiantum formosum  Y  Y
Adiantum hispidulum  Y   
Adiantum silvaticum  Y   
Angiopteris evecta  YY  
Arachniodes aristata  Y   
Asplenium australasicumY   Y 
Blechnum cartilagineum  Y   
Blechnum indicum  Y  Y
Blechnum nudum  Y   
Blechnum patersonii  Y   
Calochlaena dubia  Y   
Christella dentata  Y   
Cyathea cooperi  YY  
Davallia pyxidataYY    Y
Doodia aspera  Y YY
Doodia heterophylla  Y Y 
Drynaria rigidulaYY  Y Y
Hypolepis muelleri  Y  Y
Lastreopsis decomposita  Y  Y
Lastreopsis marginans  Y  Y
Lastreopsis micrisora  Y  Y
Lastreopsis munita  Y  Y
Pellaea falcata  Y YY
Pellaea paradoxa  Y Y 
Platycerium  bifurcatumYY    
Platycerium superbumYY    
Pteridium esculentum  Y  Y
Pyrrosia confluensYY    
Pyrrosia rupestrisYY    
Sticherus flabellatus  Y  Y
Todea barbara  YY  


Epiphytes (Epi.): Ferns that grow on tree trunks

Lithophytes (Lith.): Ferns that grow on rocks

Terrestrial (Terr.): Ferns that grow in soil

Tree Fern: Ferns with a trunk

Rockery Ferns: Ferns that grow amongst rocks

Ground Covering Ferns: Spreading or colonising ferns

Pendulous (Pend.): Ferns with weeping fronds