Tufted to clump-forming from short well-branched rhizomes usually 15-25cm tall, sometimes more or less. Leaves deciduous, light green, lanceolate in outline, bi- or tri-pinnate, the pinnules up to 1.5cm long, ovate to oblong, entire, toothed or pinnately lobed, not or rarely overlapping. Cosmopolitan, but only on high mountains in the tropics, on shaded rocks and in rocky woods, on basic rock formations. A variable species. Plants formerly known as C. alpina and C. regia are alpine forms with small, finely dissected leaves, but there are numerous intermediates linking them to typical C. fragilis. C.f 'Cristata' has the leaves more or less lightly crested at the tips. C.f var. sempervirens remains evergreen well into winter in a sheltered light, or longer under glass. Madeira.