American Maidenhair Fern

Adiantum pedatum Pteridaceae

Other names

Northern Maidenhair Fern

Growth habit


Native distribution

Native to the Finger Lakes Region, Eastern North America


A 1-3' tall fern with a delicate parasol of fronds on distinctive black, wiry stems. New fronds are pink when emerging in early spring.
Light: part to full shade.
Moisture and Soil: moist, humus-rich wooded slopes and stream banks.


Seed Treatment and Storage: Propagate by spores in moist, sterile medium in closed, transparent plastic containers.

Biocultural value

The Maidu, Karok, and Makah split maidenhair fern's dark petioles and used them as a decorative element in basketry. The plant has a wide range of medicinal uses among Native Americans, including as an antirheumatic (Cherokee, Haudensaunee), febrifuge (Cherokee), female gynecological aid (Haudenosaunee, Menominee, Potawatomi), and and gastrointestinal medicine (Costanoan). Maidenhair fern was taken by Hesquiat and Nitinaht dancers to give them strength and make them lighfooted.

The statements above were sourced from:

Native American Ethnobotany Database: http://naeb.BRIT Native American Ethnobotany

Wildlife value

Two aphid species (Macrosiphon adianti and Papulaphis sleesmani) suck juices from maidenhair fern foliage. White-tailed deer avoid browsing the fronds.


Mundy Wildflower Garden, Floriculture War Memorial Trail, Houston and Grossman Ponds, Groundcover Collection, Zucker Shrub Collection, Treman Woodland Walk, Coy Glen, Edwards Lake Cliffs Preserve, Fischer Old-growth Forest, McDaniel Meadow, Woods, and Swamp, McLean Bogs, Eames Bog, Ringwood Ponds, Tarr-Young Preserve

Source of plant

Sunny Border Ohio, Arrowhead Alpines, North Creek Nurseries, White Flower Farm, Sunny Border Nurseries


Fronds 12"-30" long, deciduous, rising from a short-creeping, horizontal, colony-forming rhizome. The stalk of the frond forks nearly in half with the two parts curving back, each having 3-5 finger-like divisions, each in turn bearing 12-20 pairs of oblong segments.

USDA Hardiness Zone


Special characteristics

notable texture