Stems short-creeping to compact, usually 3--5 mm diam.; scales uniformly dark brown to black or with light brown, ephemeral tip, linear-subulate, slightly contorted, strongly appressed, persistent. Leaves clustered, 5--30 cm; vernation noncircinate. Petiole dark brown, rounded adaxially. Blade lanceolate to linear-oblong, 2-pinnate-pinnatifid to 3-pinnate at base, 1.5--5 cm wide; rachis rounded adaxially, lacking scales, with dense monomorphic pubescence. Pinnae not articulate, dark color of stalk continuing into pinna base, basal pair slightly smaller than adjacent pair, ± equilateral, proximal basiscopic pinnules slightly enlarged, appearing tomentose adaxially. Costae green or straw-colored adaxially for most of length; abaxial scales absent. Ultimate segments oblong to lanceolate, not beadlike, the largest 3--5 mm, abaxially densely woolly with very fine, cobwebby hairs, tomentose adaxially. False indusia absent. Sori usually discontinuous, concentrated on small apical and lateral lobes. Sporangia containing 64 or 32 spores. 2 n = 60.
Sporulating late spring--summer. Rocky cliffs and slopes; usually on igneous substrates; 0--1200 m; Calif.; Mexico in Baja California.
As with Cheilanthes bonariensis , C . newberryi has traditionally been assigned to Notholaena ; R. M. Tryon and A. F. Tryon (1982) argued for its placement in Cheilanthes . Hybridization of C . newberryi with C . covillei to form C . × fibrillosa supports placement in Cheilanthes . R. M. Tryon (1956) reported variations in spore number per sporangium in C. newberryi that may indicate cytologic variability within the species.