Pellaea atropurpurea (L.) Link - Purple Cliffbrake


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Pellaea atropurpurea - (image 1 of 4)



Family: Adiantaceae (Pteridaceae?)


Calcareous rocks and open woods. 




Southern Quebec, VT, and RI, west to MN and WY, south to FL, AZ, and Mexico; disjunct in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.


Xeromorphic perennial from short, branched rhizomes forming a multi-stemmed caudex (short-thickened stem) covered by slender, pointed, brownish scales. Leaves 20-40 cm, evergreen, erect, stiff, slightly dimorphic; rachis purplish-brown, hairy; leaflets blue-green, simple to triangular or lobed at the base, margin revolute. Spores produced along margin on the underside of fertile segments.


Spores produced mid-summer

Wetland indicator: Upland

Becomes rather contorted during periods of drought, with the margins of the leaf segments folding downward to obscure the lower surface.



Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second Ed.

The New York Botanical Garden. Bronx, NY


Lellinger, D. B. and M. Evans. 1985. A Field Manual of the Ferns & Fern Allies of the United States and Canada.

Smithsonian Institution Press. Washington, D.C.


Swink, F. and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region.
Indiana Academy of Science. The Morton Arboretum. Lisle, Illinois.




 Michael Hough 2009