Rhizomes long creeping, 1.5-2 mm in diam., rhizome and stipe base clothed with brown hairs and few membranous scales. Fronds distant; fertile fronds 15-20 cm; stipe brownish at base, upward stramineous, 6-14 cm, 1-1.5 mm in diam., base clothed with brown hairs and few broadly ovate or ovate-lanceolate scales; lamina 3-pinnate, deltoid-ovate, 6-11 × 3-5 cm, acuminate; pinnae 8-10 pairs, alternate, basal pinnae subopposite, 1.2-3 cm apart from second basal pinnae, ascending, largest, oblong or ovate-lanceolate, 3-5 × 1.2-1.5 cm, base slightly narrowed and inequilateral, with stalk 1.5-3 mm, apex acuminate; upper pinnae lanceolate; pinnules 6-8 pairs, anadromous, alternate, acroscopic one usually slightly shorter than basiscopic one, second basal basiscopic pinnules largest, deltoid-ovate, 6-8 × 4-5 mm, inequilateral at base, acroscopic base parallel to costae, basiscopic base broadly cuneate, very shortly stalked, toothed, apex obtuse; secondary pinnules or pinnule segments ca. 3 pairs, basal acroscopic largest, ovate, oblong, or obovate, 2-3 × 1.5-2 cm, base cuneate and adnate to costular wing or partly separate, serrate, apex obtuse; upper segments rhomboid or shortly linear, only acroscopic side and apices toothed; veins visible on surfaces, pinnate, terminating in emarginations. Fronds thinly herbaceous when dried, green, clothed with short glandular hairs on both surfaces. Sori small, orbicular, 1 or 2 sori per ultimate segment, abaxial on suprabasal veins; indusia pale brown, orbicular or shallowly cupular, frequently with few glands, covering sporangia when young, hidden at maturity.
Cystopteris tibetica is similar to C. moupinensis, but the lamina has short glandular hairs on both surfaces and the indusia also has short glandular hairs.