Description from Flora of China
Athyrium brevifrons Nakai ex Kitagawa var. angustifrons (Kodama) T. Mori; A. huhsienense Ching & Y. P. Hsu; A. melanolepis (Franchet & Savatier) Christ var. angustifrons Kodama; A. shaanxiense Ching & Y. T. Hsieh ["shaaxiense"].
Rhizomes short, erect, apex densely clothed with dark brown, ovate-lanceolate or lanceolate scales. Fronds caespitose; fertile fronds 35-92 cm; stipe blackish brown at base, upward stramineous, 10-26 cm, base 1.5-2 mm in diam., similarly densely scaly, upward with sparse small scales; lamina 2-pinnate, oblong-lanceolate, 25-65 × 15-25 cm, base slightly narrowed, apex shortly acuminate; pinnae ca. 15 pairs, basal pinnae subopposite, upper pinnae alternate, ascending, sessile, basal 2 or 3 pairs of pinnae slightly shortened; basal pinnae oblong-lanceolate, 7-12 × ca. 2.5 cm, base equilateral, truncate or ± rounded, pinnate, apex long acuminate; pinnules ca. 18 pairs, basal pinnules narrowly deltoid-oblong, 8-10 × 3-4 mm, base inequilateral, truncate on acroscopic side, basiscopic side broadly cuneate, decurrent and adnate to wing of costa, pinnatilobate, apex obtuse; pinnule segments 4 or 5 pairs, ± rounded, margin with several short teeth; veins visible on both surfaces, pinnate in pinnules, lateral veins ca. 7 pairs, 3-forked or pinnate in basal segments, forked or simple in upper segments. Lamina herbaceous when dried, pale greenish brown, glabrate on both surfaces; rachis and costae stramineous, with sparse small scales and squarrose-glandular hairs abaxially. Sori mostly oblong, occasionally J-shaped or horseshoe-shaped, inframedial on basal acroscopic veins, 6 or 7 pairs per pinnule, uniseriate on each side of midrib; indusia brownish, oblong, occasionally J-shaped or horseshoe-shaped, membranous, erose at margin, persistent. Perispore surface without folds.
Athyrium sinense is very similar to A. dentigerum in frond morphology; it differs from A. dentigerum by the 2 or 3(or 4) pairs of shortened basal pinnae.
Athyrium filix-femina (Linnaeus) Roth s.l. of China occurs widely from NE to SW China. In fact, it included A. brevifrons, A. sinense, and A. dentigerum. Mature plants of the three species differ morphologically and geographically. Athyrium brevifrons occurs in NE and N China; only the basal 1 or 2 pairs of pinnae are slightly shortened, and the stipes are relatively markedly long. Athyrium dentigerum occurs in SW China; its numerous lower pinnae are gradually shortened toward the base, and the stipes are very short. Qin Ling plants of A. sinense are morphologically and geographically intermediate between A. brevifrons and A. dentigerum: in A. sinense several pairs of pinnae are slightly shortened toward the base. The three are probably subspecies of one species, pending further analysis. All three species are different from European A. filix-femina.
● Mountain forests; 300-2600 m. SE Gansu, Hebei, W Henan, Nei Mongol, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi.