Stems stout, short-creeping, densely scaly; scales pale brown. Leaves clustered, 1--10 dm. Petiole green to pale brown, 1--30 cm, densely scaly; scales dense proximally, extending to and along rachis. Blade oblanceolate, 1-pinnate, (15--)25--50(--80) × (6--)13--25 cm; rachis not winged. Pinnae numerous, separated proximally, closely spaced to barely overlapping distally, not remaining green through winter, not decurrent on rachis, not articulate to rachis, linear-lanceolate to linear-attenuate, simple, 2--18 cm × 4--9 mm; base asymmetrically cordate to widened or truncate; margins serrulate, prominently so near apex; apex acuminate, attenuate, or acute; scales of rachis grading into uniseriate hairs on abaxial costae, or hairs absent on abaxial costae; proximal pinnae not divided or lobed. Veins free, forked. Sori narrow, blade tissue exposed abaxially. 2 n = 116. Roadsides and other disturbed habitats; coastal plain; 0--50 m; introduced; Ala., Calif., D.C., Fla., Ga., La., Miss., S.C.; West Indies; South America; native to Asia. Pteris vittata has escaped from cultivation. It is found on almost any calcareous substrate, such as old masonry, sidewalks, building crevices, and nearly every habitat in southern Florida with exposed limestone, notably pinelands. It is scattered throughout Florida and is sporadic, becoming less frequent to rare northward in the coastal plain.
Pteris vittata varies exceedingly in size, density of scales on the rachis, presence or absence of hairs on the abaxial costae, and overall color and aspect of the leaf. As a result, it may occasionally bear a resemblance to forms of P . × delchampsii W. H. Wagner & Nauman, the hybrid between P . bahamensis and P . vittata .