Rhizome prostrate, stout, densely covered with shiny brown long hairs. Stipes thick, up to 1 m or more, triangular in transverse section at base, with dense caducous appressed hairs, stipe and rachis green, turning purplish abaxially with age, stipe with a continuous or broken row of linear aerophores on each side, base with a mass of long (1-1.5 cm) hairs, upper part of stipe and rachis covered with small, appressed flaccid hairs becoming glabrescent; lamina 2-pinnate-pinnatifid, 1.5-3 m; medial pinnae 40-80 × 15-30 cm, lower pinnae shortened, deflexed; pinnae many, alternate, stalked, pinnules shortly stalked, usually of ± equal length on either side of rachilla; pinnule segments slightly falcate, apiculate, margins crenulate to serrulate-serrate; veins free, fertile ones simple, sterile simple or forked; lamina subleathery, adaxial surface deep green, abaxial surface glaucous, glabrous on both sides, except hairy on midrib; venation visible on both surfaces, free, lateral veins simple or forked. Sori usually 1-5 at base of lower pairs of pinnule segments; indusia bivalvate, outer indusia orbicular, inner ones ± oblong; outer valve of indusium usually large; paraphyses dark reddish brown. Spores pale yellowish, with equatorial flange.
Cibotium barometz is rather common in S subtropical regions and tropical regions, usually growing with Alsophila spinulosa, Diplopterygium chinense, and Dicranopteris pedata, sometimes abundant and forming a dense community. It is an indicator species of acidic soils in tropical and subtropical areas, mainly distributed in S and SW China, primarily in Guangdong, Guangxi, and Guizhou, but also in Sichuan and Yunnan. The most northerly distribution of this species in China reaches the Chang Jiang in Chongqing.
The rhizome of this plant is very thick, woody, and covered by long, soft, golden-yellow hairs, appearing like a golden-haired dog. Therefore, the plant is called "Jinmao Gouji" (golden hair dog), or "Huanggoutou" (yellow dog?s head) in China. It is a famous traditional Chinese herbal medicine known as "Gouji" (cibot rhizome, "rhizoma cibotii"). Hairs of the rhizome and stipe are also used as a wound dressing and to stanch blood loss. It is listed in CITES Appendix II. Conservation and sustainable use should be attained.