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Purple-stemmed Cliffbrake
Pellaea atropurpurea

In Connecticut, purple-stemmed cliffbrake is common only in limestone regions of the northwest corner.

• Family: Pteridaceae
• Habitat: dry, limestone-rich cliffs & outcroppings
• Height: fronds 4-12 inches long
• Location of spores: undersides of fertile leaflets
• Stipe (leaf stalk): thin, wiry, and hairy, especially on the upper surface; dark purple or red
• Growth pattern: asymmetric clump
• Persistence: evergreen

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Pellaea atropurpurea


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.


Last updated November 25, 2005. © 2005 Connecticut Botanical Society. All rights reserved.