Rustyback - Ceterach officinarum

Alternative names
Rusty-back Fern, Asplenium ceterach

Fronds 3-20 cm long. Back of frond covered with rust-coloured scales. Spores in elliptical bundles along the veins, hidden by the scales. The leaves are thick, leathery and persist through the winter. They are almost, but not wholly, pinnately divided.

Identification difficulty

Limestone rocks, rock crevices and stone walls, particularly mortared walls.

When to see it

All year round.

Life History

It is drought resistant and will curl its fronds inwards so that only the brownish surface is visible.

UK Status

Found mainly in southern Britain, particularly the south-west.

VC55 Status

Occasional in Leicestershire & Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 13 of the 617 tetrads.

It is on the local VC55 Rare Plant Register

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map