How to Remove Japanese Climbing Fern

These recommendations are primarily for homeowners and communities that would like to start working in their neighborhood greenspace. For each species we recommend herbicide-free control methods, but have added an herbicide option for some species for those who are comfortable using them. These methods were selected while keeping in mind limiting soil disturbance, reducing herbicide use, and avoiding harm to other species that may be present whether they be other plants/animals. Manual removal is possible for all of them if you have the time. If the infestation is overwhelmingly severe or these tips aren’t proving effective, we suggest you consider qualified professional services.


Japanese Climbing Fern

Lygodium japonicum – Georgia EPPC Category 1 (serious problem in Georgia)


Japanese climbing fern spores. Do not disturb the plant while it has these spores on the leaf tips.



Removing climbing fern by hand can be very challenging. It has a tough root and very delicate stems which make it difficult to handpull without breaking it off at the root.

Japanese climbing fern reproduces by producing lots of tiny airborne spores which can disperse through the air and form new plants. When you see spores on the underside of its leaves (example photo above), do not disturb or try to remove the plant. Only remove the plant when it is not producing spores. If it does not have spores, dig out the entire root system with a small shovel or trowel. Shake the excess dirt off the roots and pile the roots and vines in an area where they will dry out and not be in contact with the soil.


Locate the root node.


Dig up the roots with a shovel or soil knife.


Be sure to remove the dirt surrounding roots after uprooting.


Carefully bag and dispose of all parts of the plant.


Sever Climbing Vines

This invasive vine favors climbing on shrubs and young trees, creating a web of vines. The best way to remove these climbing vines is with a pair of hand pruners and patience. Unwrap each vine from the woody plant, using the pruners to make the detangling easier. Do not do this process while the plant is producing spores (see example photo at top). Bag all severed parts of the plant.


Using pruners to cut off and detangle vines from the sapling.


Carefully bag and dispose of all parts of the plant.



“Category” refers to description of invasiveness based on information from the Georgia and North Carolina Exotic Pest Plant Council (EPPC) and do not necessarily reflect the severity of invasions in Atlanta specifically. View our Resource “Atlanta’s Top Invasive Plants (A to Z) Expanded List” for more information.

A great opportunity to learn is volunteering with us at a Forest Restoration project. Please view our Calendar of upcoming service projects or consider enrolling in our annual Forest Stewardship training program. For other species removal, also read: How to Remove Our Top 10 Invasive Plants.

If you have any questions about this guide please email