Description from Flora of China
Aspidium speciosum D. Don, Prodr. Fl. Nepal. 5. 1825; Arachniodes austroyunnanensis Ching; A. caudata Ching var. kansuensis Ching; A. emeiensis Ching; A. futeshanensis Y. T. Hsieh; A. guangtongensis Ching; A. ishingensis Ching & Y. T. Xie; A. kansuensis (Ching) Y. T. Hsieh; A. multifida Ching; A. neoaristata Ching; A. pseudoaristata (Tagawa) Ohwi; A. sichuanensis Ching; A. sinoaristata Ching; A. sparsa Ching; A. sporadosora (Kunze) Nakaike; A. subaristata Ching & Y. T. Hsieh; A. yandangshanensis Y. T. Hsieh; Aspidium affine Wallich ex Mettenius; A. cornucervi D. Don; A. sporadosorum Kunze; Byrsopteris pseudoaristata (Tagawa) Sa. Kurata; B. speciosa (D. Don) C. V. Morton; Dryopteris speciosa (D. Don) C. Christensen; Nephrodium speciosum (D. Don) Handel-Mazzetti; Polystichopsis pseudoaristata (Tagawa) Tagawa; Polystichum pseudoaristatum Tagawa; P. speciosum (D. Don) J. Smith; Rumohra aristata (G. Forster) Ching var. pseudoaristata (Tagawa) H. Itô; R. miyakei H. Itô; R. pseudoaristata (Tagawa) H. Itô; R. pseudoaristata var. magnipinna H. Itô; R. speciosa (D. Don) Ching.
Rhizome shortly creeping, often stiff, densely scaly; scales brown or dark brown, linear-lanceolate or subulate, 8-15 × 0.5-1.5 mm, base slightly dentate or ciliate, apex attenuate, margin entire, firmly membranous. Fronds approximate, 0.5-1.1 m; stipe (ochraceous or) stramineous, 27-60 cm, 3-4 mm in diam., base with scales similar to those on rhizome, upward sparser and often entire-margined, or ± glabrescent; lamina 3- or 4-pinnate, brownish when dried, ovate-oblong or ovate-deltoid (or ovate-pentagonal), 25-50 × 18-35 cm, papery or subleathery, base rounded or shallowly cordate, apex acuminate or narrowly deltoid, rachis scaly or glabrescent as distal portion of stipe; pinnae ca. 10 pairs, alternate or lower 1(-3) pairs opposite, with to 2 cm stalk, obliquely spreading; lowest pinnae deltoid or obliquely quadrangular, to 25 × 15 cm, base broadly cuneate, apex acuminate; primary pinnules ca. 16 pairs, deltoid-lanceolate or oblong, proximal basiscopic 1(or 2) slightly longer (to 13 × 4.5 cm), base broadly cuneate, apex acuminate; secondary (and tertiary) pinnules shortly stalked or sessile, oblong or rhombic, ca. 1.5 × 0.7 cm, base acroscopically truncate, slightly auriculate, basiscopically cuneate, apex acute or obtuse, margin sharply serrate or pinnatifid, often aristate; upper pinnae often oblong-lanceolate; axes of lamina, pinnae, and pinnules with sparse minute (ovate- or) lanceolate apical threadlike scales abaxially. Sori terminal (or subdorsal) on veinlets, 1-5 pairs per ultimate segment, medial between midvein and margin; indusia brown, membranous, entire, and fugacious. 2n = 82*.
According to Fraser-Jenkins, the correct name of this fern should be Arachniodes cornucervi (D. Don) Fraser-Jenkins (Taxon. Revis. Indian Subcontinental Pteridophytes, 323. 2008) and the name adopted here is a misapplication and should stand for the group of ferns for which we use the name A. coniifolia, the following species. Without seeing the lectotype chosen by Fraser-Jenkins, we cannot determine if his interpretation of D. Dons name is better than Chings.
This is a rather variable fern in frond size, lamina shape, and margin of ultimate segments in different habitats; it also shows to some extent morphological differences among fertile and sterile fronds or pinnae of the same frond. The sterile frond or pinnae often have a wider lamina or pinnules and longer awns along the ultimate segments.
By streams in forests, thickets, under shrubs, sometimes on shaded wet moss-covered rocks in valleys; below 100-1900 m. Anhui, Chongqing, Fujian, SE Gansu, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, W Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Taiwan, Yunnan, Zhejiang [Bhutan, India (Sikkim), Japan, Nepal, New Guinea, Thailand, Vietnam].