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Cystopteris fragilis (Brittle bladderfern)
Cressler, Alan

Cystopteris fragilis

Cystopteris fragilis (L.) Bernh.

Brittle Bladderfern, Brittle Bladder Fern, Fragile Fern

Dryopteridaceae (Wood Fern Family)

Synonym(s): Cystopteris dickieana, Cystopteris fragilis ssp. dickieana, Cystopteris fragilis var. angustata, Cystopteris fragilis var. woodsioides, Filix fragilis

USDA Symbol: CYFR2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), HI (I?), CAN (N), GL (N), SPM (N)

The appearance of fragile fern is variable, depending greatly on habitat. It is usually a low clump (10-12 in. tall and 2 ft. across) of narrowly-pointed, twice pinnate fronds.


From the Image Gallery

8 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb , Fern
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug


USA: AK , AZ , CA , CO , CT , HI , IA , ID , IL , KS , MA , ME , MI , MN , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NM , NV , NY , OH , OR , PA , SD , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WY
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE
Native Distribution: Nf. to AK, s. locally to PA, VA mts., n. IN, AR, TX & CA
Native Habitat: Rich, deciduous woods; sandstone ridges; bluffs

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Soil Description: Moist, neutral soil among limey rocks.
Conditions Comments: One of the earliest spring ferns, fronds wither during droughts and quickly reappear after the next rainy spell.


Description: Propagate by division.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Additional resources

USDA: Find Cystopteris fragilis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Cystopteris fragilis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Cystopteris fragilis


Record Modified: 2017-07-07
Research By: TWC Staff

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