In Connecticut, purple-stemmed cliffbrake is common only in limestone regions of the northwest corner.
- Family: maidenhair fern (Pteridaceae)
- Habitat: dry, limestone-rich cliffs & outcroppings
- Height: fronds 4-12 inches long
- Location of spores: undersides of fertile leaflets
- Petiole (leaf stalk): thin, wiry, and hairy, especially on the upper surface; dark purple or red
- Growth pattern: asymmetric clump
- Persistence: evergreen
- Origin: native
Underside of a frond, showing the spores at the edges of the leaflets.
Purple-stemmed cliffbrake can look quite similar to smooth cliffbrake. To distinguish them, look at the rachis -- the wiry stalk in the middle of the frond. The rachis of purple-stemmed cliffbrake is covered with hairs, while the smooth cliffbrake rachis is hairless or very nearly so.