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Adiantum pedatum

Common Name(s):
Common maidenhair, Northern maidenhair fern
Ferns, Native Plants

Adiantum pedatum, commonly called northern maidenhair fern, is a deciduous, clump-forming, native fern which typically grows 1.5' 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.

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. This plant is seldom damaged by deer.

Regions:  Mountain, Piedmont

Seasons of Interest: 

  Leaf:                     Blooms:             

Wildlife Value:  This plant is highly resistant to damage from deer.  It provides excellent ground cover and parts are used in bird nest construction.  

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: 


18-36 in.
The Northern maidenhair fern has airy, fan-shaped, deep blue green fronds held on thin black stipes in tight clumps. Its frond stalk forks with the two halves curving back with each having 3 to 5 finger-like division. It also has circular or horseshoe-shaped rachis (stem) and shell-shaped pinnae (primary division of a pinnate leaf). High summer heat may cause fronds to brown by mid to late summer, particularly if good soil moisture is not maintained and/or plants are grown in too much sun.
ornamental fern, deciduous, low maintenance, shade, rock garden, deer resistant, woodland garden

NCCES plant id: 172

Adiantum pedatum Adiantum pedatum
Joshua Mayer, CC-BY-SA-2.0
Adiantum pedatum, multiple Adiantum pedatum
Kerry Woods, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Adiantum pedatum, fronds Adiantum pedatum
KM, CC BY - 2.0