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Common Maidenhair Adiantum hispidulum

Previously known as:

  • Adiantum pedatum
Phonetic Spelling
ae-dee-AN-tum peh-DAY-tum
Description

Northern maidenhair fern is a deciduous, clump-forming, native fern which typically grows 1' to 2' tall and is most frequently found on rich wooded slopes, ravine bottoms, and damp shady woods. It features finely-textured, somewhat frilly fronds which have curved stalks and are palmately-divided (i.e., fronds divide into finger-like projections). Its wiry stems are reddish-brown to black. Crosiers (coiled young fiddleheads) emerge pink in spring.  Genus name comes from the Greek word adiantos meaning unwetted in reference to the water repellent foliage.  Specific epithet means cut like a bird's foot in reference to the fronds.

It is easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade. It prefers moist, humusy, acidic soils in full shade. Spreads slowly by creeping, branching rhizomes to form large colonies over time. It will also tolerate mild drought. High summer heat may cause fronds to brown, especially in dry soil or too much sun.  This plant is seldom damaged by deer. Rhizome short, widely creeping. 

Quick ID Hints:

  • Fronds decompound, membraneous, in flat planes
  • Pinnae in flat planes
  • Pinnules triangular, lobed
  • Sori marginal covered by a revolute marginal flap
  • Stipe & rachis wiry, black
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#birds#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#shade tolerant#spores#fern#cover plant#low maintenance#ornamentals#native garden#rock garden#woodland#cover
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#birds#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#shade tolerant#spores#fern#cover plant#low maintenance#ornamentals#native garden#rock garden#woodland#cover
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Adiantum
    Species:
    hispidulum
    Family:
    Pteridaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    North America
    Distribution:
    Moist forests in eastern North America
    Wildlife Value:
    It provides excellent ground cover and parts are used in bird nest construction.
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    This plant is highly resistant to damage from deer.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 6 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Fern
    Houseplant
    Native Plant
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Clumping
    Creeping
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Description:
    No fruit; reproduces via spores (which are a light brown) can be at times seen on the edges of each fan-shaped frond.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Description:
    No flowers; reproduces via spores
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Fronds
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Other/more complex
    Leaf Shape:
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    This plant has airy, fan-shaped, deep blue-green fronds and circular or horseshoe-shaped rachis and shell-shaped pinnae. 1-5-pinnate, arching, weakly glaucous beneath, membraneous; pinnae often decompound, flabellately branched; pinnules/leaflets somewhat triangular, broadly cuneate, lobed, sterile lobes cut deeply; stipe/petiole wiry, shiny black or tinged purple. Spores or sori (which are a light brown and elongated) can be at times seen on the edges of each fan-shaped frond and covered by a revolute, pinnule, marginal flap
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Black
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Houseplants
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Shade Garden
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Heavy Shade