Stems compact, ascending, stout, 5--10 mm diam.; scales uniformly reddish brown (or tan), linear-subulate, 0.1--0.3 mm wide, thin, margins entire to denticulate. Leaves somewhat dimorphic, sterile leaves shorter and less divided than fertile leaves, clustered on stems, 5--50 cm; croziers villous. Petiole reddish purple to nearly black, lustrous, rounded adaxially, without prominent articulation lines. Blade elongate-deltate, usually 2-pinnate proximally, 2--18 cm wide; rachis reddish purple throughout, straight, rounded adaxially, densely pubescent adaxially with short, curly, appressed hairs. Pinnae perpendicular to rachis or ascending, not decurrent on rachis, usually with 3--15 ultimate segments; costae straight, 10--100 mm, often longer than ultimate segments. Ultimate segments linear-oblong, 10--75 mm, leathery, sparsely villous abaxially near midrib; margins weakly recurved to plane on fertile segments, usually covering less than 1/2 abaxial surface, borders whitish, crenulate; apex obtuse to slightly mucronate. Veins of ultimate segments obscure. Sporangia long-stalked, containing 32 spores, not intermixed with farina-producing glands. n = 2 n = 87, apogamous.