Connecticut Plants
Slender Cliffbrake
Cryptogramma stelleri (Gmel.) Prantl

Slender cliffbrake is endangered in Connecticut.

  • Family: maidenhair fern (Pteridaceae)
  • Habitat: moist, shaded ledges, usually on limestone cliffs
  • Height: 2-4 inches
  • Location of spores: at the edges of fertile fronds, partially covered by rolled edges of the leaves
  • Petiole (leaf stalk): green above, brown at base; smooth
  • Growth pattern: random
  • Persistence: deciduous, disappearing by late summer
  • Origin: native
Cryptogramma stelleri (Gmel.) Prantl
Cryptogramma stelleri (Gmel.) Prantl

The fertile (spore-bearing) fronds have a different shape from the sterile fronds. The fertile fronds have narrower leaflets, and the overall frond size is usually larger. In this photo, fertile fronds are at the left and sterile fronds at the right. This plant was photographed in Bruce County, Ontario in early June.

Cryptogramma stelleri (Gmel.) Prantl

A sterile frond.

Cryptogramma stelleri (Gmel.) Prantl

Underside of a fertile frond.

Cryptogramma stelleri (Gmel.) Prantl

Underside of a fertile leaflet. Note how the leaf edges curl under, mostly covering the spores. The markings on the left are sixteenths of an inch.