Plant of the Month for April 2015

Cystopteris fragilis
Cystopteris fragilis

Description and General Information:

Fragile fern is one of the few species of plants that is found worldwide.  Within North America, it is found throughout except for the southeastern States.  It is a relatively small, tufted species with brittle, deciduous fronds arising from a thickish rhizome.  The stipe is smooth and slender, up to 10 centimetres long. Fronds may reach to 40 centimetres long and 6 centimetres wide on robust plants but are more often closer to 20 centimetres and narrower.   It most commonly grows as a lithophytic species, tucked in the cracks of crevices of cliffs and talus slopes.  It is found as commonly on acidic rock as basic.


Fragile fern requires a shady, cool location and even moisture.  If too dry, plants will go dormant.  Best to plant on the north side of a rock, especially in a narrow crack if possible.  Plants are shallow-rooted and prefer an organic-based media that is not too wet or dry. Soil pH is not an issue.

Blooming Period:

Not applicable


Spores, division


Spores may be dusted on surface of an organic mix.  Keep at room temperature and cover container to maintain 100% humidity.  Spores sown in autumn will be small plants by late spring.


Plants may be dug and divided just as the new fronds emerge in spring.  Take care as new fronds are very fragile.




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