Tuber ladder fern

Tuber ladder fern.Tuber ladder fern (Nephrolepis cordifolia).


Also known as: Chinese ladder fern, tuber sword fern. 

What does it look like?

This is an erect fern with dense, feather-like fronds up to 1m tall. It has round potato-like tubers up to 2cm, attached to the roots.

Why is it a problem?

It forms dense mats crowding out other vegetation and provides habitat for pest animals like rats.

How do I get rid of it?

  • Weed wipe with 2g metsulfuron-methyl (600g/kg e.g. Escort®) per 1 litre water; or
  • Spray 1g metsulfuron-methyl per 10 litres water. Leave sprayed sites 3-4 months to allow herbicide to carry into the tubers before clearing or replanting.

Control methods for ground cover pest plants

There is a range of methods available to control pest plants. The following recommendations – which are only a sample of those available – are based on safe-use methods that have proven effective.

  • Physical removal of the plant and all fragments to a land fill is the best organic method.
  • Slashing, mowing or otherwise removing plant material and then treating the stumps or regrowth reduces the amount of chemicals needed.
  • Apply chemical within 10 minutes of cutting.
  • Spray is recommended for large areas. For gun and hose or aerial rates contact the regional council’s biosecurity team.
  • Penetrant aids the uptake of herbicides – there is a range available, e.g. Pulse®, Boost®, Freeway, Dewdrop, Kiwi Buddy Uptake crop oil. 


Caution: when using any herbicide or pesticide PLEASE READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY and follow all instructions and safety requirements.

More information

For further information or control advice please contact one of our biosecurity team at the Northland Regional Council on 0800 002 004.


More information on these and other pest plants is also available at: