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PlantFiles: Brittle Bladder Fern, Fragile Fern, Brittle Fern
Cystopteris fragilis

Family: Dryopteridaceae
Genus: Cystopteris (sis-TOP-ter-is) (Info)
Species: fragilis (FRAJ-ih-liss) (Info)

Synonym:Aspidium fragile
Synonym:Aspidium dentatum
Synonym:Aspidium viridulum
Synonym:Cyathea fragilis
Synonym:Cyclopteris fragilis

One member has or wants this plant for trade.

Alpines and Rock Gardens

6-12 in. (15-30 cm)
12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 2a: to -45.5 C (-50 F)
USDA Zone 2b: to -42.7 C (-45 F)
USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Partial to Full Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From spores

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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to view:

By kennedyh
Thumbnail #1 of Cystopteris fragilis by kennedyh

By Todd_Boland
Thumbnail #2 of Cystopteris fragilis by Todd_Boland

By Ursula
Thumbnail #3 of Cystopteris fragilis by Ursula

By Ursula
Thumbnail #4 of Cystopteris fragilis by Ursula

By Cretaceous
Thumbnail #5 of Cystopteris fragilis by Cretaceous


No positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral Xenomorf On Aug 11, 2009, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

This fan-shaped bright green to dark green fern has a very brittle stalk & very variable toothing. It get about 10" tall and 3" inches wide. It grows in the shade in moist, rich soil amongst springs and rock ledges at about 5000-12,000 ft elevation in Arizona.

Neutral Cretaceous On Mar 24, 2007, Cretaceous from El Sobrante, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

This fern is native to the western-half of the USA (including Alaska and Hawaii) as well as some north-eastern states, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.

Hard to find in nurseries. It is listed as exploitably vulnerable in the state of New York.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Chesterland, Ohio

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