Deciduous. Grows 30 to 75 cm tall. Features finely-textured, somewhat frilly fronds which have curved stalks and are palmately-divided (i.e., fronds divide into finger-like projections). Wiry stems are reddish-brown to black. Crosiers (coiled young fiddleheads) emerge pink in spring.
It grows in a variety of habitats, but generally favors soils that are both humus-rich, moist, and well-drained. It grows both in soils and on rock faces and ledges when adequate moisture is present.