Epiphytic, climbing or terrestrial ferns. Rhizome mostly fleshy, dorsiventral and long-creeping or sometimes short and erect, stoloniferous in one genus, dictyostelic or solenostelic, mostly with a highly dissected solenostele, densely clothed with brown or chestnut or black, peltate-based, entire or ciliate, often hair-pointed or long-attenuated scales. Stipes mostly distant except in Nephrolepis, articulated or not articulated to the rhizome in a few non-Australian species. Lamina simple, pinnate to decompound, linear or oblong to broadly deltoid, herbaceous to coriaceous, glabrous or hairy. Pinnae not articulated or articulated to the main rhachis. Ultimate segments mostly unequally-sided at the base except in simple fronds. Veins free, rarely anastomosing. Sori indusiate or rarely exindusiate, rounded or rarely elongated along the margin, terminal or dorsal on the veins, marginal or intramarginal. Indusium peltate, reniform or reniform-orbicular or lunate or cup-shaped, either affixed by the sinus or opening outwards and attached at the base and sometimes at the sides. Sporangia with an annulus including 9–19 thick-walled cells; pedicel elongated, composed of 3 rows of cells. Spores bilateral, mostly oblong to reniform or oval, tuberculate or smooth, with or without a perispore. 9 gen., mainly trop. to warm temp.