Asia-Tropical: Borneo present; Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia present), Comores present, Indian Ocean present, Madagascar present, Réunion present
Indian Ocean: Madagascar, Comores, Réunion; in Malesia: Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo.
Nephrolepis abrupta is somewhat similar to N. dicksonioides and has been confused with that species, from which it differs in more triangular pinnae, gradually narrowed from the base towards the apex, the fertile pinnae not incised beyond the sori, so that the sori are protruding from the margin, not on distinct teeth, indusium not reaching margin, innervated by 1, rarely 2 veins, rhachis scales more strongly lacerated. The pinnae often appear to stand in a plane at right angles to the rhachis. They are usually glabrous, but may be densely short-hairy all over the lamina, with hairy and glabrous fronds sometimes occurring on the same plant. Plants from the non-Malesian part of the range are often much more compact and densely scaly, but this habit is not preserved in cultivation.