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Adiantum pedatum

(American Maidenhair Fern)


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Delicate fern that is native to moist woods of North America and Asia. Vivid bright green leaves on shiny black stems are highly decorative up close for small space pockets or around water gardens. Underground spreading rootstocks create groundcover-like patches over time. Favorite of shaded rock gardens and thrives in litter under canopy trees . Shade or part shade in far north. Moderate growth once established to 18 inches to 2 feet with average two feet wide and spreading. Hardy .

Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in Azerbaijani:

Qədəhvari baldırıqara

Common Names in Dutch:


Common Names in English:

American Maidenhair Fern, American Maidenhair, five finger fern, Five fingered maidenhair fern, Five-Finger Fern, Maidenfern, Maidenhair, Maidenhair (Canadian), Maidenhair Fern, Northern Maidenhair, Northern Maidenhair Fern, Pointerweed

Common Names in French:

Adiante Du Canada

Common Names in German:

Pfauenrad Frauenhaarfarn

Common Names in Japanese:


Common Names in Korean:


Common Names in unspecified:

Maidenfern, Maidenhair, Maidenhair Fern, Northern Maidenhair


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Family Pteridaceae

Genera ca. 40, species ca. 1000 (13 genera, 90 sp: worldwide.

Considerable disagreement exists concerning the circumscription and proper name of this family . The taxa comprising the Pteridaceae in this treatment were assigned to the Sinopteridaceae and Pteridaceae by D. B . Lellinger (1985) and were included in five families by R. E. G. Pichi-Sermolli (1977). The broad concept followed here is similar (except for the exclusion of Ceratopteris ) to that espoused by R. M. Tryon and A. F. Tryon (1982), who applied the name Pteridaceae to the group. Until very recently, the newer name Adiantaceae was more commonly used.

As represented in North America, Pteridaceae comprise three major evolutionary lines (the adiantoids, the pteroids, and the cheilanthoids). Characteristics holding the family together include abaxial (usually submarginal ) sori that lack indusia or are protected by a reflexed or revolute leaf margin , spores that are usually globose-tetrahedral and trilete, and chromosome base numbers of 30 or 29 (rarely 27). The xeric-adapted members of the family (particularly the cheilanthoids) have undergone extensive parallel and convergent evolution, and they have frustrated attempts to produce a natural generic classification based on macromorphologic characteristics alone. Although some workers have aggregated species into a few large genera (e.g. , J. T. Mickel 1979b), most tend to recognize smaller segregate genera based on a combination of morphologic, chromosomal, and biochemical data. The latter approach seems to provide a more useful, evolutionarily informative classification and is the one adopted here. Aspidotis and Notholaena are maintained here as distinct from Cheilanthes, and three recently described genera ( Argyrochosma, Astrolepis, and Pentagramma ) have been incorporated into the treatment. The reasons for these changes in generic circumscription are discussed under the individual genera.[1]

Genus Adiantum

Plants terrestrial or on rock. Stems short- to long-creeping or suberect, branched; scales deep tawny yellow to dark reddish brown [black], concolored or bicolored , linear-lanceolate to lanceolate, margins entire, erose-ciliate, or minutely dentate . Leaves monomorphic to somewhat dimorphic , densely clustered to closely spaced [distant ], 15--110 cm. Petiole chestnut brown to dark purple or blackish, with single groove adaxially, glabrous , hispid , or strigose , with 1 or 2 vascular bundles . Blade lanceolate, ovate , trowel-shaped, or fan-shaped, 1--4(--9) -pinnate proximally, membranaceous to papery , both surfaces commonly glabrous (2 species with scattered hairs ), adaxially dull or shiny, not striate ; rachis straight or flexuous . Ultimate segments subsessile to short-stalked (stalks terminating in cupulelike swelling at base of pinna in A. tenerum ), round , fan-shaped, rhombic , or oblong , 3--29 mm wide; base truncate to cuneate, free from costa; stalk dark, often lustrous ; fertile segments with marginal lobes recurved to form false indusia. Veins of ultimate segments conspicuous , free, ± dichotomously forking near base and well above segment base [anastomosing in a few tropical species], parallel distally. False indusia light gray-green or brown to dark brown, narrow, 0.6--1 mm wide, marginal, concealing sporangia until sporangia dehisce. Sporangia submarginal, borne along or sometimes also between veins on abaxial surface of false indusium, paraphyses and glands absent. Spores yellow or yellowish brown, tetrahedral-globose, trilete, rugulate to rugose or tuberculate , equatorial ridge absent. x = 29, 30.

Species ca. 150--200: nearly worldwide except at latitudes greater than 60°.

Most diverse in Andean South America, Adiantum is primarily a tropical genus; of the nine species occurring in the flora , A. melanoleucum, A. tenerum, and A. tricholepis are strictly subtropical . Adiantum hispidulum occurs only as an escape from cultivation. The genus is absent from dry areas in the interior of the continent.

Adiantum is a very clearly circumscribed genus of ferns, the character state "sporangia borne on abaxial surface of false indusium" being both necessary and sufficient to define it. Within this large and widespread genus, however, species relationships are mostly unknown. An evolutionary classification of the group is indeed much needed (R. M. Tryon and A. F. Tryon 1982).[2]

Physical Description

Species Adiantum pedatum

Stems short-creeping; scales bronzy deep yellow, concolored, margins entire. Leaves lax-arching (rarely pendent), closely spaced, 40--75 cm. Petiole 1--2 mm diam., glabrous , occasionally glaucous. Blade fan-shaped, pseudopedate, 1-pinnate distally, 15--30 × 15--35 cm, glabrous; proximal pinnae 3--9-pinnate; rachis straight, glabrous, occasionally glaucous. Segment stalks 0.5--1.5(--1.7) mm, dark color entering into segment base. Ultimate segments oblong , ca. 3 times as long as broad; basiscopic margin straight; acroscopic margin lobed, lobes separated by narrow incisions 0--0.9(--1.1) mm wide; apex obtuse , divided into shallow, rounded lobes separated by shallow sinuses 0.1--2(--3.7) mm deep, margins of lobes crenulate or crenate-denticulate. Indusia transversely oblong, 1--3 mm, glabrous. Spores mostly 34--40 µm diam. 2 n = 58. Sporulating summer--fall. [source]

Once considered a single species across its range in North America and eastern Asia, Adiantum pedatum is considered to be a complex of at least three vicariant species ( A. pedatum and A. aleuticum occur in North America) and a derivative allopolyploid species (C. A. Paris 1991). Adiantum pedatum in the strict sense is restricted to deciduous woodlands in eastern North America. [source]

Habit: Upright broadleaf perennial . • Growth Form: RhizomatousShape and Orientation: Semi-Erect

Flowers: Bloom Period: Summer • Flower Color: inconspicuous, none • Flower Conspicuous: Does not produce flowers.

Seeds: Seed Spread Rate: Slow • Seedling Vigor: Low • Fruit/Seed Abundance: High • Fruit/Seed Color: Brown • Fruit/Seed Conspicuous: No • Cold Stratification Required: No

Foliage: Long fronds to 14 in.Foliage Shape: Lance-shaped • Foliage Color: Dark Green • Normal foliage color: Green • Underside foliage: Green • Juvenile foliage: Green • Mature foliage: Green • New foliage: Green • Spring foliage: Green • Summer foliage: Finely textured, rich green, semi-evergreen foliage . • Fall foliage: Green • Winter foliage: Green • Foliage Porosity Summer: Moderate • Foliage Porosity Winter: Porous • Foliage Texture: Fine • Fall Conspicuous: Yes • Leaf Retention: No


Active Growth Period: Spring and Summer • Growth Rate: Moderate. Spreads slowly. • After Harvest Regrowth Rate: Slow • Mature Height (feet): 1.3 • Size: Fronds grow from the ground forming large dense patches 2 ft . high and wide. • Vegetative Spread Rate: Moderate • Lifespan: Lifespan


Landscape Uses: Ideal in woodland gardens or along streams or ponds . Does well in containers . • Care: Popular fern. Easy to grow in most landscapes. Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system . Feed frequently during growing season with a general purpose fertilizer . Cut back old fronds after new growth begins in spring .


Rich, deciduous woodlands, often on humus-covered talus slopes and moist lime soils; 0--700 m [3].

Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 3,086 meters (0 to 10,125 feet).[4]


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Duration: PerennialCoppice Potential: No • Progagated by Bulbs: No • Propagated by Bare Root: No • Propagated by Container: Yes • Propagated by Corms: No • Propagated by Cuttings: No • Propagated by Seed: No • Propagated by Sod: No • Propagated by Sprigs: Yes • Propagated by Tubers: No • Fruit/Seed Period Begin: Summer • Fruit/Seed Period End: FallFruit/Seed Persistence: No


Culture: Space 9-12" apart.

Soil: Likes acidic soil. • Adapted to Medium Textured: Adapted to Medium Textured Soils • Adapted to Coarse Textured Soils: Yes • Anaerobic Tolerance: Low • Salinity Tolerance: None • CaCO3 Tolerance: Low • Minimum pH: 4.6 • Maximum pH: 6.6 • Fertility Requirement: High

Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Partial to full shadeShade Tolerance: Tolerant

Moisture: Drought Tolerance: Low • Minimum Precipitation: 36 • Maximum Precipitation: 60 • Moisture Use: Medium • Water Requirements: Keep surface of soil moist, but not soggy.

Temperature: Minimum Temperature (F): -38°:F. • Minimum Frost Free Days: 80 • Heat Zones: High: 6 (>45 to 60 days) Low:1 (< 1 days) (map) • Cold Hardiness: 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b. (map)


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A. pedatum f. laciniatum (Hopkins) Weatherby • Adiantum pedatum f. billingsae Kittredge


Publishing author : L. Publication : Sp. Pl. 2: 1095 1753 [1 May 1753]

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Adiantum

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 61 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus:

A. aethiopicum (Common Maidenhair Fern) · A. aleuticum (Aleutian Maidenhair) · A. aleuticum subpumilum (Dwarf Coastal Maidenhair Fern) · A. anceps (Double Edge Maidenhair) · A. bellum (Bermuda Maidenhair Fern) · A. capillus (Common Maidenhair) · A. capillus-junonis (Junos Hair Fern) · A. capillus-veneris (Common Maidenhair Fern) · A. capillus-veneris L. 'Fimbriatum' (Fimbriatum Southern Maidenhair Fern Adiantum Capillus-Veneris) · A. capillus-veneris 'Imbricatum' (Imbricatum Southern Maidenhair Fern Adiantum Capillus-Veneris) · A. caudatum (Angel Wings) · A. caudatum 'Coll. #tlc-008' (Walking Maidenhair Fern) · A. chilense (Maidenhair Fern) · A. concinnum (Polished Maidenhair) · A. cunninghamii (Cunningham's Maidenhair) · A. diaphanum (Small Maidenhair) · A. formosum (Black Stem Maidenhair) · A. fragile (Fragile Maidenhair) · A. fragile var. fragile (Fragile Maidenhair) · A. fragile var. rigidulum (Fragile Maidenhair) · A. hirsutum (Hairy Maidenhair) · A. hispidulum (Rosy Australian Maidenhair Fern) · A. hispidulum 'Bronze Venus' (Rough Maidenhair) · A. jordanii (California Maidenhair) · A. latifolium (Broadleaf Maidenhair) · A. lunulatum (Crescent Maidenhair) · A. macrophyllum (Large-Leaf Maidenhair-Fern) · A. melanoleucum (Fragrant Maidenhair) · A. obliquum (Oblique Maidenhair) · A. pedatum (American Maidenhair Fern) · A. pedatum subpumilum (Maidenfern) · A. pedatum 'Eco Aurora-Borealis' (Eco Aurora-Borealis Northern Maidenhair Fern Adiantum Pedatum) · A. peruvianum (Peruvian Maidenhair Fern) · A. petiolatum (Stalked Maidenhair) · A. philippense (Philippine Maidenhair) · A. pulverulentum (Glossy Maidenhair) · A. pyramidale (Pyramid Maidenhair) · A. raddianum (Delta Maiden-Hair Fern) · A. raddianum 'Bridal Veil' (Bridal Veil Delta Maidenhair Fern Adiantum Raddianum) · A. raddianum 'Crested Fritz' (Maidenhair Fern) · A. raddianum 'Fritz-Luthi' (Fritz-Luthi Delta Maidenhair Fern) · A. raddianum 'Gracillimum' (Maidenhair Fern) · A. raddianum 'Micropinnulum' (Micropinnulum Delta Maidenhair Fern Adiantum Raddianum) · A. raddianum 'Ocean Spray' (Maidenhair Fern) · A. raddianum 'Pacific Maid' (Pacific Maid Delta Maidenhair Fern) · A. raddianum 'Sleeping Beauty' (Maidenhair Fern) · A. raddianum 'Variegatum' (Variegatum Delta Maidenhair Fern Adiantum Raddianum) · A. radiatum (Delta Maidenhair Fern) · A. tenerum (Black Stick Maidenhair Fern Adiantum Tenerum) · A. tenerum var. farleyense (Black Stick Maidenhair Fern) · A. tetraphyllum (Fourleaf Maidenhair) · A. thalictroides 'Argentine Lace' (Meadow-Rue Maidenhair Fern) · A. tracyi (Tracy's Maidenhair) · A. trapeziforme (Diamond Maidenhair) · A. tricholepis (Deer Maidenhair-Fern) · A. venustum (Evergreen Maidenhair Fern) · A. villosum (Woolly Maidenhair) · A. viridimontanum (Green Mountain Maidenhair) · A. vivesii (Puerto Rico Maidenhair) · A. wilsonii (Wilson's Maidenhair) · A. x tracyi (Tracy's Maidenhair)

More Info

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Further Reading

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  1. Michael D. Windham "Pteridaceae". in Flora of North America Vol. 2. Oxford University Press. Online at [back]
  2. Cathy A. Paris "Adiantum". in Flora of North America Vol. 2. Oxford University Press. Online at [back]
  3. "Adiantum pedatum". in Flora of North America Vol. 2. Oxford University Press. Online at [back]
  4. Mean = 265.280 meters (870.341 feet), Standard Deviation = 218.270 based on 1,083 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
Last Revised: 2015-02-06