The lace lip fern (Myriopteris gracillima) was known as Cheilanthes gracillima until recently. The taxonomy of Cheilanthes is very complex. On the basis of new phylogenic analysis Amanda Grusz and Michael Windham in 2013 proposed separating 47 Cheilanthes species from North and Central America and placing them into a new genus, Myriopteris. In 2014 The Jepson Manual accepted this move. The etymology of Myriopteris is from the Greek for “myriad fern” and refers to the much divided fronds. The species designation, gracillima, means most graceful or slender and derives from the Latin word “gracile”. The taxonomy of lace lip fern will most likely remain complicated because it can hybridize with other lip ferns.
Lace lip ferns are small, sturdy evergreens that grow in clusters of fronds. The fronds of this native fern arise from light brown rhizomes that are covered with scales and have a dark mid-stripe. The frond has a rounded, red-brown rachis (stem) and is intricately divided into pairs of smaller, oval segments (pinnae). The pinnae are concave and beadlike with edges that roll under. The sori (clusters of spores) are located under the rolled margins of the leaf segments. There are 64 spores in each sorus.
Lace lip ferns are found in crevices amid granite cliffs or other acid igneous rocky habitats in British Columbia, Alberta, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Utah at elevations between approximately 1,000 to 10,500 feet.
These lace lip ferns were growing on a rocky outcrop above the King’s Creek picnic area in Lassen Volcanic National Park CA.