Fronds with weaker, flexible rachis; pinnae abaxially sparsely covered with ovate lanceolate scales; sori large and confluent. Pinnae adnate to rachis and decurrent apically, becoming free from rachis (petiolulate) with ± flared to auriculate/cordate base basiscopically; rachis winged apically.
Terrestrial or epilithic. Rhizome short, erect or procumbent, with shining lanceolate scales. Fronds tufted, suberect to spreading, pinnatifid to pinnate, lamina oblong, 65-90 x 20-40 mm, basal pinnae reduced, glabrous adaxially, covered with pale brown, overlapping scales abaxially, texture thinly coriaceous, involute when dry; pinnae ovate-oblong, adnate to rachis, decurrent, margins wavy to crenate-incised; rachis and stipe blackish, with shining, reddish, lanceolate scales. Sporangia in linear sori, becoming confluent, sometimes obscured by scales.
Rhizome to 4 mm diam., erect or procumbent; scales sessile, clathrate, lanceolate, 3-5 x 1.0-1.5 mm, acuminate, frequently with a hair point, irregularly serrate, bicolorous, with dark brown central region and paler margins, with narrowly oblong cells. Fronds tufted, erect to suberect; stipe 15-35(-60) mm long, chestnut- brown to dark chestnut-brown, densely scaled, scales sessile, narrowly triangular, 3-5 x 0.5-1.0 mm, acuminate, irregularly finely serrate, glossy, sometimes bicolorous, with narrow rust coloured central region and broad straw coloured margin, with oblong to ovate cells; lamina herbaceous, involute and inrolled when dry, elliptic to narrowly obovate in outline, pinnatisect to pinnate, sometimes shallowly 2-pinnatifid, (80-)90-120(-190) x (20-)30-45(-52) mm, basal pinnae gradually decrescent; rachis somewhat winged apically, not winged between widely spaced pinnae basally, scales as for stipe but 2-4 x 0.7-1.0 mm; pinnae (10-)15-25(-28) x (4-)5-10(-11) mm, adnate to rachis with decurrent base apically, becoming free from rachis (petiolulate) with somewhat flared to auriculate-cordate base basiscopically, ovate-oblong, obtuse, margin sinuate to scalloped, glabrous above at maturity, abaxially very sparsely scaled, scales sessile, deltate to lanceolate, 1.5-2.5 x 0.4-0.7 mm, attenuate, finely serrate, glossy, bicolorous, with narrow rust coloured central region and broad straw coloured margin, with narrowly oblong cells; sori linear along (obscure) veins, 3-6 mm long, becoming confluent at maturity, exindusiate, not obscured by scales.
Perennial with short, erect rhizome. Fronds to 14 cm long, erect or spreading; stipe to 1 cm long, densely scaled, lamina narrowly elliptic, pinnatisect, rachis proximally dark brown, green towards apex, adaxially flattened or shallowly grooved, segments to 1.7 cm long, pale to dark green above, firmly herbaceous, adnate, oblong-obtuse, lanceolate-obtuse, ovate-obtuse, to transversely broadly ovate, entire to repand, upper surface glabrous, densely scaled below. Venation obscure. Sori to 10 pairs per pinna, linear, to 2 mm long, indusium obsolete.
Dry Grassland; Mesic Grassland. Rock crevices and boulder bases.
This species typically grows in sandy soil on forest floors, as well as under coastal dune scrub, often fairly close to streams and under trees on steep damp earth banks. It is usually associated with riparian or open forest, most often in lightly rather than deeply shaded conditions.
Asplenium capense occurs from the Cape Peninsula through the Western and Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State and northern provinces of South Africa, extending sporadically to central and tropical East Africa.