Purple Cliffbrake Pellaea atropurpurea (Linnaeus) Link    Synonyms: Purple-stem Cliffbrake, Purple-stemmed Cliffbrake.
Kingdom Plantae   >   Division Pteridophyta   >   Class Polypodiopsida   >   Order Polypodiales   >   Family Pteridaceae   >   Genus Pellaea   

Status:

Purple Cliffbrake grows over all of eastern North America and much of the western United States, as well as in Central America.

Description:

Purple Cliffbrake is a stiff, wiry fern that grows in clumps. The stipe and rachis are reddish-purple and the blades are gray-green. The pinnae are lance-shaped to long and narrow. The lower pinnae are divided into pinnules, sometimes with 1 or 2 basal lobes, whereas the upper pinnae are undivided. On fertile pinnae or pinnules, the margins are rolled under and somewhat cover the sori, which line the undersides of the margins.

The stipe and rachis have short curly hairs on the upper surface, and the lower surfaces of the pinnules have scattered hair-like scales. These features differentiate this species from Pellaea glabella, which generally has few or none of these.

Where to find:

Look for Purple Cliffbrake in cracks or crevices of dry rock outcrops, especially calcareous rocks. It grows out of the mortar in structures built of rock, such as walls like those in the locks of the C&O Canal.

There are 75 records in the project database.

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Purple Cliffbrake in Washington Co., Maryland (3/11/2013). Take note of the whitish hairs on the rachis. This is the best way to tell Purple Cliffbrake apart from Smooth Cliffbrake. Photo by Jim Brighton. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake in Washington Co., Maryland (3/11/2013). Photo by Jim Brighton. (MBP list)

A Purple Cliffbrake in Allegany Co., Maryland (5/31/2014). Photo by Richard Orr. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake in Montgomery Co., Maryland (7/17/2011). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake in Washington Co., Maryland (5/27/2017). Photo by Bill Harms. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake in Howard Co., Maryland (8/16/2014). Photo by Grazina McClure. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake in Allegany Co., Maryland (7/6/2014). Verified by Carl Taylor. Photo by Kimberly Booth. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake growing in Allegany Co., Maryland (6/20/2015). Photo by Kimberly Booth. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake in Washington Co., Maryland (5/28/2017). Photo by Bill Harms. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake in Montgomery Co., Maryland (5/6/2017). (c) lynnparsons, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by lynnparsons via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake in Washington Co., Maryland (4/30/2016). Photo by Jane Hill. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake in Baltimore City, Maryland (5/10/2014). Photo by Tami Elizabeth Bentz. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake in Allegany Co., Maryland (9/1/2017). Photo by Kimberly Booth. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake with sori in Allegany Co., Maryland (6/28/2015). Photo by Jim Brighton. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake (sori) in Howard Co., Maryland (8/20/2014). Photo by Joanne Solem. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake in Baltimore City, Maryland (4/8/2019). Photo by Kirsten Johnson. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake in winter in Montgomery Co., Maryland (3/17/2013). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake in Prince George's Co., Maryland (2/12/2018). Photo by Wayne Longbottom. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake (habitat) in Howard Co., Maryland (8/20/2014). Photo by Joanne Solem. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake in Montgomery Co., Maryland (5/20/2016). (c) Joe Metzger, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Joe Metzger via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake in Washington Co., Maryland (8/7/2019). (c) botanygirl, some rights reserved (CC BY). Photo by botanygirl via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake in Montgomery Co., Maryland (1/2/2021). (c) Jim Brighton, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Jim Brighton. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake in Washington Co., Maryland (2/7/2020). (c) Emilio Concari, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Emilio Concari. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake in Washington Co., Maryland (2/7/2020). (c) Emilio Concari, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Emilio Concari. (MBP list)

Purple Cliffbrake in Prince George's Co., Maryland (7/27/2018). (c) Andrejs Brolis, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Andrejs Brolis via iNaturalist. (MBP list)


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