Mostly scrambling ferns with prominent scaly rhizomes, used in horticulture mostly in hanging baskets; in nature climbing on rocks and other plants or sometimes terrestrial. Rhizome short-creeping or long-creeping, covered with scales or with spreading stolons and occasionally tubers. Sterile and fertile fronds generally similar. Blades divided 1-several times, mostly either long and narrow with many segments arranged in a herring-bone manner (pinnate), or the blades ovate to triangular in outline and divided several times; veins free. Sori at the end of veins, mostly close to the margin or between margin and midrib. Indusia round to cylindrical or kidney-shaped.
The genus Nephrolepis has very distinctive anatomical and spore characters and is sometimes placed either in its own family Nephrolepidaceae or in the family Oleandraceae.
c. 12 genera with 200 species mostly tropical but extending into temperate regions (6 genera with 17 species in Australia).
Source: (1995). Davalliaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 1, Ferns, conifers & their allies. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.