Very similar to Cystopteris fragilis, hardly distinguished from it morphologically except in spore ornamentation, i.e., perispore rugose or verrucose not echinate. It is reported that they can make sterile hybrids and form a species complex with other species. 2n = 168, 252.
The taxonomic status of Chinese Cystopteris dickieana is uncertain. Scottish and American C. dickieana are considered conspecific with C. fragilis, based on the variable echinate and rugose spore ornamentation in C. fragilis.