Cryptogramma stelleri
Author: (Gmel.) Prantl

Slender rock-brake

Pteridaceae (Maidenhair Fern Family)

Close up of Cryptogramma stelleri by Peggy Lyon
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Ranks and Status

Global rank: G5
State rank: S2
Federal protection status: BLM Sensitive
State protection status: None

[+] Description and Phenology

Cryptogramma stelleri from: USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 1: 32
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General description: This delicate, slender perennial fern has two kinds of fronds, sterile and fertile, and grows only 1-2 together unlike Cryptogramma crispa, which has robust fronds that are crowded together on a short rhizome.

Look Alikes: Cryptogramma acrostichoides fronds are more robust and crowded on a short rhizome. Additionally, the lower portion of the stipes are persistent (Weber and Wittmann 2012).

Phenology: New growth produced in spring, dying by late summer (Flora of North America 1993+).

[+] Herbarium Photos

Images of Cryptogramma stelleri housed at the Colorado State University Herbarium.

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[+] Habitat

Habitat of Cryptogramma stelleri by Peggy Lyon
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Cryptogramma stelleri is found scattered on moss and duff, in the shade of moist coniferous forests. Found in crevices in calcareous rocks in shaded localities with dripping water (Hulten 1968). Grows in horizontal crevices of moist, shaded limestone cliffs, which tend to be mossy, and are often associated with waterfalls and under shallow rock overhangs. Also associated with other ferns such as brittle bladderfern (Cystopteris fragilis) and American rock-brake (Cryptogramma acrostichoides).

Elevation Range: 7,825 - 13,458 feet (2,385 - 4,102 meters)

[+] Distribution

Distribution of Cryptogramma stelleri in Colorado according to mapped land ownership/management boundaries (CNHP 2012, COMaP v9 ).
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Distribution of Cryptogramma stelleri in Colorado
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Colorado endemic: No
Global range: Nearly circumpolar. Northern North America. Alaska to Labrador south to Oregon, Montana, Iowa, Michigan, and West Virginia, with disjunct populations in Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah. Europe, Asia. (Welsh 1974; Porsild and Cody 1980; USDA NRCS 2012).
State range: In Colorado, this species is known from San Juan, Archuleta, Grand, Gunnison, Conejos, San Miguel, Summit, and Ouray Counties (Colorado Natural Heritage Program 2012). Also documented from Garfield County (USDA NRCS 2012).

[+] Threats and Management Issues

Naturally protected habitat. However, specific occurrences could be threatened by any changes in hydrology that would dry out the habitat.

[+] References

    • Ackerfield, J. 2012. The Flora of Colorado. Colorado State University Herbarium. 433 pp.
    • Fernald, M.L. 1950 Gray's Manual of Botany, 8th ed. American Book Company, New York. 1632 pp.
    • Flora of North America Editorial Committee, ed. (FNA). 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Oxford Univ. Press, New York, Oxford.
    • Gleason, H.A. 1952. New Britton & Brown. Illustrated Flora. Lancaster Press Inc. Lancaster, Pa.
    • Gleason, H.A. 1952. The new Britton and Brown illustrated flora of the northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 3 volumes. Hafner Press, New York. 1732 pp.
    • Harrington, H.D. 1954. Manual of the plants of Colorado. Sage Press, Chicago. 666 pp.
    • Heil, K.D., S.L. O'Kane Jr., L.M. Reeves, and A. Clifford, 2013. Flora of the Four Corners Region, Vascular Plants of the San Juan River Drainage; Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis, Missouri. 1098 pp.
    • Hulten, E. 1968. Flora of Alaska and Neighboring Territories. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA.
    • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
    • Kunsman, J.R. and Keener, C.S. 1986. New Records of Vascular Plants from Bair County, Pennsylvania. Bartonia 52:14-25.
    • Lavender, A.E., M.M. Fink, S.E. Linn, D.M. Theobald. 2011. Colorado Ownership, Management, and Protection v9 Database. Colorado Natural Heritage Program and Geospatial Centroid, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO. (30 September).
    • Lellinger, D.B. 1985. A field manual of the ferns and fern-allies of the U.S. and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. 389 pp.
    • Schneider, A. 2013. Wildflowers, Ferns, and Trees of the Four Corners Regions of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. Accessed on-line at
    • Southern Appalachian Species Viability Project. 2002. A partnership between the U.S. Forest Service-Region 8, Natural Heritage Programs in the Southeast, NatureServe, and independent scientists to develop and review data on 1300+ regionally and locally rare species in the Southern Appalachian and Alabama region. Database (Access 97) provided to the U.S. Forest Service by NatureServe, Durham, North Carolina.
    • USDA, NRCS. 2013. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
    • Weber, W. A. 1961. Additions to the flora of Colorado. University of Colorado Studies Series in Biology 7:1-26.
    • Weber, W. A. and R. C. Wittmann. 2012. Colorado Flora, Eastern Slope, A Field Guide to the Vascular Plants, Fourth Edition. Boulder, Colorado. 555 pp.
    • Weber, W. A. and R. C. Wittmann. 2012. Colorado Flora, Western Slope, A Field Guide to the Vascular Plants, Fourth Edition. Boulder, Colorado. 532 pp.
    • Welsh, S. L. 1974. Anderson's Flora of Alaska and Adjacent Canada. Brigham Young University Press, Provo, UT.
    • Wherry, E.T. 1940-1941. The Ferns and Lycosphenes of Pennsylvania. Bartonia 21:11-37.

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