Asplenium - Aspleniaceae

Asplenium ceterach L. ssp. ceterach






Ceterach officinarum Lam.& DC.

Common name

Rustyback, Scale fern.


Rhizome erect, branching; rhizome scales clathrate. Frond 15 x 2 cm, evergreen, monomorphic, fairly flat on the ground, blade/stipe ratio: 8:1. Stipe green, from base all up the rhachis, scaly. Lamina pinnatifid, lanceolate in outline, leathery, deep green upper surface, scales dense, light brown, entirely covering the lower surface. Pinnae 6 to 12 pair, alternate; margins entire or sometimes irregularly lobed, slightly bending upwards, revealing the scales; veins netted, veins closing near the margins, not visible without removing the scales. Sori linear, along veins; indusium vestigial, replaced by scales.



ceterach: comes from an Arabic word applied to the plant by Persian physicians.


On limestone substrates.

Distribution worldwide

Maritime and southern Europe, northern Africa, east to the Himalayas.

Distribution in Africa

Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Western Sahara, Tunesia.

Growth form



  • Roux, J.P. (2009) Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands. Strelitzia 23, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Page 82.
  • Stuart, T. (2004-) Hardy Fern Library. Published on the internet: Page 0. (Includes a picture).