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Chinese brake, Chinese ladder brake, ladder brake

giant brake


stout, short-creeping, densely scaly;

scales pale brown.

stout, short-creeping, densely and conspicuously scaly;

scales pale brown.


clustered, 1–10 dm.

clustered, 1–2 m.


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

scales dense proximally, extending to and along rachis.

straw-colored to brownish red, to more than 1 m, scaly proximally, otherwise glabrous at maturity.


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

rachis not winged.

deltate to pentagonal, pedate, ultimate divisions pinnately divided, 1–2 × 1–2 m;

rachis not winged.

Ultimate segments

of blade numerous, linear-oblong to linear-lanceolate, to 19 × 6 mm, margins entire or serrulate, apex obtuse and rounded to acute;

terminal segments 3–4 cm longer and more tapering than lateral segments.


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.

few, closely spaced, remaining green through winter, not decurrent on rachis, not articulate to rachis, oblong-lanceolate, 1–3-forked, to 7 × 6 dm;

base asymmetrical, acute;

apex acute;

rachis and costae glabrate or with minute hairs, especially near axils of proximal pinnae; penultimate pinnules linear to linear-lanceolate, pinnatifid, separated, not remaining green through winter, not articulate to rachis.


free, forked.

anastomosing near costae and costules, becoming forked and free near margins of ultimate segments.


narrow, blade tissue exposed abaxially.

narrow, blade tissue exposed abaxially.


= 116.

Pteris vittata

Pteris tripartita

Habitat Roadsides and other disturbed habitats, coastal plain Terrestrial in cypress, pond-apple, and other swamps or forested wet habitats, on constantly moist, circumneutral soils
Elevation 0–50 m (0–200 ft) 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; Central America; South America; West Indies; native to tropical Asia [Introduced, naturalized in scattered locations]
[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.)

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. cretica, P. multifida, P. vittata
Synonyms Pycnodoria vittata Litobrochia tripartita
Name authority Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 2: 1074. 1753, not Schkuhr. (1809) Swartz: J. Bot. (Schrader) 1800(2): 67. (1801)
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