Rustyback - Ceterach officinarum

Scientific Name: Ceterach officinarum (Aspleniaceae). Syn Asplenium ceterach.

English Name: Rustyback; Arabian Ceterach; Common Spleenwort; Finger Fern; Miltwaste; Scale Fern (Spleenwort family).

French Name: Le Cétérac; le Cétérac officinal; le Cétérach; le Cétérach officinal; la Doradille.

5 Key Characters:
  • fronds covered in rust coloured scales underneath.
  • small evergreen fern.
  • dark green leathery fronds.
  • favours old limestone walls.
  • often growing in full sun.

Lookalikes: Maidenhair Spleenwort Asplenium trichomanes, which is a more delicate looking plant, with blackish frond stalks and slightly toothed pinnae ('leaflets').

Habitat: Rocks, old walls, limestone, mortar, often in full sun.

Status: Uncommon.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:


  1. Also on old trees...
    the avenue of heavily pollarded crab-apples on the Preuilly road in Le Grand Pressigny hosts them.

    I must admit that, until today, I'd never heard of a Common Speenwort...
    only Maidenhair, Sea, Black and Green Spleenworts...
    to me this is, and always will be Rusty-back Fern [Asplenium ceterach]!

  2. That wasn't Pauline commenting... t'was I!
    Defi Tweedig

  3. Tim: Rose lists Forked, Hybrid, Black, Western Black, Lanceolate, Sea, Green and Maidenhair. Of those, only Black and Maidenhair are likely in this area. I've never heard Rustyback called Common either, but it is a Spleenwort and Tela Botanica lists Common Spleenwort as one of its English names.