Description from Flora of China
Rhizome creeping or ascending, ca. 1 cm in diam., apex with black-brown scales. Fronds clustered, dimorphic or subdimorphic; stipe straw-colored, sometimes brown, seldom castaneous, 10-45 cm. Sterile fronds: stipe shorter, ca. 2 mm in diam., glabrous; lamina 1-pinnate or sometimes digitate, ovate in outline, 10-30[-40] × 6-20[-35] cm; pinnae (2 or)3-5(-7) pairs, often opposite, decumbent, basal pinnae each with 2(or 3) pinnules, shortly stalked, upper pinnae narrowly lanceolate or lanceolate, sometimes with basiscopic lobe, 10-18(-24) × 1-1.5(-3) cm, sessile, base broadly cuneate, margin white cartilaginous and serrate, apex acuminate. Fertile fronds longer: stipe 30-45 cm; pinnae 3-5(-8) pairs, opposite or upper alternate, decumbent, basal pinnae with (1 or)2(or 3) pinnules, shortly stalked (2-5 mm); upper pinnae linear, sometimes with lateral pinnule, 12-25 × 0.5-1.2 cm, sessile, base broadly cuneate, terminal pinna 3-lobed, base decurrent. Lamina green or gray-green, papery when dried, glabrous; midvein abaxially extremely convex, straw-colored, glabrous; veins conspicuous on both surfaces, distant, oblique, simple or forked at base. 2n = 58*, 59, 87*.
The species as a whole occurs widely throughout the tropics and subtropics. It is frequently cultivated and escapes, obscuring the natural distribution.
Two varieties are usually recognized. The correct placement of Pteris cretica var. sylvatica X. Y. Wang & P. S. Wang (Guizhou Sci. 12(2): 54. 1994) is uncertain.
400-3200 m. Anhui, Chongqing, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, SW Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, S Shaanxi, Sichuan, Taiwan, Xizang, Yunnan, W Zhejiang [Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Japan, Kashmir, Laos, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam; Africa, SW Asia, Europe, Pacific islands (Fiji, Hawaii)].