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Tectaria incisa


Tectaria incisa Cav.

Family Name: Tectariaceae
Common Name: Incised Halberd Fern

Tectaria incisa or Incised Halberd Fern is large terrestrial fern with creeping rhizomes and fronds growing up to 1.5 m tall. It has bipinnatifid fronds that are pale green, holding up to 7 pairs of leaflets with its lowest pair producing 1 -2 enlarged lobes. Sori are large, produced on 2 rows on either side of the veinlets protected by a round to kidney-shaped indusia.


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Species Summary

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Ferns & Lycophytes (Non-Seed Vascular Plants) (Fern)
Plant Growth Form Herbaceous Plant


Native Distribution Tropical to Subtropical America
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Disturbed Area / Open Ground, Primary Rainforest, Secondary Rainforest, Riverine, Inland Cliff)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Non-native (Spontaneous (Naturalised))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a large terrestrial fern with erect, short-creeping rhizomes and fronds growing up to 150 cm in length.
Foliage Fronds are bipinnatifid, 70 - 150 cm long, held on a straw to brownish coloured stalk. The blade is pale green, not very leathery or shiny, holding up to 7 pairs of leaflets with its lowest pair producing 1, sometimes 2 enlarged lobes. The leaflets never divides into smaller leaflets hence bipinnate foliage is not observed in this species.
Reproductive Parts - non-flowering plant Sori produced in 2 rows on either side of the veinlets protected a layer known as indusia that is round to kidney-shaped. <1>
Others - Plant Morphology Rhizomes are erect, short. The tips of the rhizomes and base of the stalk are covered with ovate scales.
Habitat Occurs in primary forest, cloud forest, along hillsides, ravines and roadside, often found among rocks, on wet shade cliffs 100 - 2100 m in altitude. <2> In Singapore, it is a garden plant naturalised in many secondary forests and in the margins of primary forest. Prefers moist sites such as streambanks and drainage ditches.
Similar Tectaria incisa and Tectaria barberi are similar in appearance. The key differences are found in the sori. The sori of Tectaria barbei are small, round to oblong, irregularly scattered on the underside. They also lack an indusia which is present in Tectaria incisa. Tectaria incisa have larger sori arranged along the sides of the veinlets protected by a round to kidney-shaped indusia.
Cultivation It can be propagated by spores.

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade, Full Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water, Occasional Misting
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Propagation Method Spore


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green - Light Green
Foliar Type Compound
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Oblong, Ovate)
Foliar Margin Entire, Pinnately Lobed / Pinnatifid

Non - Foliar and Storage

Root Type Underground (Fibrous Root)
Specialised Storage Organ(s) Underground (Rhizome)


References <1> Morton, C.V. (1966). The Mexican Species of Tectaria. American Fern Journal 56(1): 129-131.

<2> Tryon, R.M. & Stolze, R.G. (1991). Pteridophyta of Peru, vol. 4(27), pp. 24. Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History.

Image Repository



Master ID 32474
Species ID 6886
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 23 March 2023.