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This species is known from a single hillside and associated roadside rockcut in southern Tamaulipas, near the town of Aldama. A moderately open dry deciduous forest of spiny Fabaceae, Croton, Ceratozamia, and grasses dominates the hillside; the Notholaena is restricted to pockets at the base of rocks, or, most commonly, the face of the rockcut itself.
This location—deep in Mexico’s Gulf coastal plain—is unusual for any notholaenid, almost all of which are restricted to higher elevation sites that have more abundant rocky habitats. Notholaena brevistipes was first described in 2004 (Mickel & Smith, 2004).