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Chinese brake, Chinese ladder brake, ladder brake

Cretan brake, Cretan brake fern, ribbon fern


stout, short-creeping, densely scaly;

scales pale brown.

slender, creeping, sparingly scaly;

scales dark brown to chestnut brown.


clustered, 1–10 dm.

clustered to closely spaced, to 1 m.


green to pale brown, 1–30 cm, densely scaly;

scales dense proximally, extending to and along rachis.

straw-colored to light brown distally, darker proximally, 10–50 cm, base sparsely scaly.


oblanceolate, 1-pinnate, (15–)25–50(–80) × (6–)13–25 cm;

rachis not winged.

irregularly ovate, primarily and irregularly pedately divided, 10–30 × 6–25 cm;

rachis not winged;

only terminal pinna decurrent on rachis.


numerous, separated proximally, closely spaced to barely overlapping distally, not remaining green through winter, not decurrent on rachis, not articulate to rachis, linear-lanceolate to linear-attenuate, simple, 2–18 cm × 4–9 mm;

base asymmetrically cordate to widened or truncate;

margins serrulate, prominently so near apex;

apex acuminate, attenuate, or acute;

scales of rachis grading into uniseriate hairs on abaxial costae, or hairs absent on abaxial costae;

proximal pinnae not divided or lobed.

1–3 pairs, well separated, blade often 5-parted with terminal pinna and 2 lateral pairs of pinnae remaining green through winter, not articulate;

sterile pinnae to 25 × 0.8–1.5 cm, serrulate;

fertile pinnae narrower than sterile pinnae, to ca. 11 mm wide, spiny-serrate;

base acute acroscopically and decurrent (sometimes narrowly and barely so) basiscopically, glabrous;

proximal pinnae with 1 (rarely 2) basiscopic lobes.


free, forked.

free, simple or forked.


narrow, blade tissue exposed abaxially.

narrow, blade tissue exposed abaxially.


= 116.

Pteris vittata

Pteris cretica

Habitat Roadsides and other disturbed habitats, coastal plain
Elevation 0–50 m (0–200 ft)
from FNA
AL; CA; DC; FL; GA; LA; MS; SC; South America; West Indies; native to Asia [Introduced in North America]
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
from FNA
FL; LA; Widely scattered in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]

Pteris vittata has escaped from cultivation. It is found on almost any calcareous substrate, such as old masonry, sidewalks, building crevices, and nearly every habitat in southern Florida with exposed limestone, notably pinelands. It is scattered throughout Florida and is sporadic, becoming less frequent to rare northward in the coastal plain.

Pteris vittata varies exceedingly in size, density of scales on the rachis, presence or absence of hairs on the abaxial costae, and overall color and aspect of the leaf. As a result, it may occasionally bear a resemblance to forms of P. × delchampsii W. H. Wagner & Nauman, the hybrid between P. bahamensis and P. vittata.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Pteris cretica is almost pantropical in distribution (C. V. Morton 1957). Because this species is so commonly and widely cultivated and appears to escape easily in warmer regions, its native range is uncertain.

Young leaves of young plants of Pteris multifida may key to P. cretica because only the terminal pinnae may be decurrent on the rachis as in P. cretica. Juveniles of P. multifida can be separated by proximal pinnae with long-attenuate apices and thinner-textured leaves than P. cretica. Juveniles of P. cretica have proximal pinnae with acute to blunt or nearly rounded apices and thicker-textured leaves.

Varieties 2 (2 in the flora).

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

1. Pinnae green throughout.
var. cretica
1. Pinnae with broad, white, central stripe.
var. albolineata
Source FNA vol. 2. FNA vol. 2.
Parent taxa Pteridaceae > Pteris Pteridaceae > Pteris
Sibling taxa
P. bahamensis, P. cretica, P. multifida, P. tripartita
P. bahamensis, P. multifida, P. tripartita, P. vittata
Subordinate taxa
P. cretica var. albolineata, P. cretica var. cretica
Synonyms Pycnodoria vittata Pycnodoria cretica
Name authority Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 2: 1074. 1753, not Schkuhr. (1809) Linnaeus: Mant. Pl. 130. (1767)
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