Hymenophyllum tunbrigense, the Tunbridge filmy fern or Tunbridge filmy-fern, is a small, fragile perennial leptosporangiate fern which forms large dense colonies of overlapping leaves from creeping rhizomes. The common name derives from the leaves which are very thin, only a single cell thick, and translucent, giving the appearance of a wet film. The evergreen fronds are bipinnatifid, deeply and irregularly dissected, about 3 to 6 cm long, 2 cm across with dark winged stipes. In contrast to the similar H. wilsonii the fronds are more divided, flattened, appressed to the substrate and tend to have a bluish tint. The fronds are monomorphic and produce sori along the frond segments close to the rachis. Up to 5-10 purse-shaped sori are produced per frond, each covered by two strongly convex, flattened indusial valves. The valve margins are jagged and used to distinguish H. tunbrigense from H. wilsonii, where the edges are entire. In common with all ferns, H. tunbrigense exhibits a gametophyte stage in its life cycle (alternation of generations) and develops a haploid reproductive prothallus as an independent plant. Information about the gametophyte is scarce but it is likely to be inconspicuous with a narrow ribbon-like thallus. The gametophyte may be able to reproduce itself vegetatively by gemmae in the absence of the sporophyte. Gametophytes of the related Killarney fern (Trichomanes speciosum) have been found outside the geographical range of the sporophyte and this may prove to be true of Hymenophyllum tunbrigense.