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Adiantum pedatum - L.
Common Name Northern Maidenhair,American Maidenhair Fern
Family Polypodiaceae
USDA hardiness 4-9
Known Hazards Although we have found no reports of toxicity for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable[200]. Many ferns also contain thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of its vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase[172].
Habitats Rich, deciduous woodlands, often on humus-covered talus slopes and moist lime soils, from sea level to 700 metres[270].
Range N. America - Alaska to Quebec and Nova Scotia, south to California and Georgia. E. Asia
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade

Form: Irregular or sprawling.

Adiantum pedatum Northern Maidenhair,American Maidenhair  Fern

Adiantum pedatum Northern Maidenhair,American Maidenhair  Fern
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of fern
Adiantum pedatum is a FERN growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3. The seeds ripen from Aug to October. Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.


Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Ground Cover;
Edible Uses
None known
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antirheumatic;  Astringent;  Demulcent;  Emmenagogue;  Expectorant;  Febrifuge;  Haemostatic;  Pectoral;  

The whole plant is considered to be antirheumatic, astringent, demulcent, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, haemostatic, pectoral and tonic[172, 222, 240]. A tea or syrup is used in the treatment of nasal congestion, asthma, sore throats etc[222]. A decoction of the root was massaged into rheumatic joints[257]. The N. American Indians chewed the fronds and then applied them to wounds to stop bleeding[213]. A strong infusion of the whole plant was has been used as an emetic in the treatment of ague and fevers[257]. This plant was highly valued as a medicinal plant in the 19th century and merits scientific investigation[222].
Other Uses
Basketry;  Hair;  Lining.

The stipe of the plant is used as an ornament in basketry[172, 157]. The leaves can be used as a lining for carrying or storing fruits in baskets and on racks[257]. The plant is used as a hair conditioner[172]. The stems have been used as a hair wash to make the hair shiny[222]. Plants can be used for ground cover when planted about 30cm apart either way, they form a slowly spreading clump[208].
Cultivation details
Landscape Uses:Container, Foundation, Ground cover, Massing, Rock garden, Woodland garden. Easily grown in a cool moist shady position[1, 187]. Requires an abundance of moisture in the air and soil[1]. Prefers an alkaline soil[200]. Requires an acid soil according to another report. A very ornamental plant[1], it does not always succeed outdoors in Britain[1]. It probably prefers to be covered in snow overwinter - could a mulch help[1]? This species is often divided into three separate species by botanists - the type species is found in eastern N. America, A. aleuticum is found in western N. America and a third species is found in eastern Asia[270]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233]. Plants have a slowly-increasing rootstock[233]. Special Features:Attractive foliage, North American native, Naturalizing, Wetlands plant, There are no flowers or blooms.
Spores - best sown as soon as ripe on the surface of a humus-rich sterilized soil. Keep the compost moist, preferably by putting a plastic bag over the pot. Pot on small clumps of plantlets as soon as they are large enough to handle and keep them humid until they are well established. Do not plant outside until the ferns are at least 2 years old and then only in a very well sheltered position. Division in spring or autumn.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Adiantum capillus-venerisMaidenhair Fern, Common maidenhair, Southern Maidenhair Fern, Venus Maidenhair Fern, Venus's Hair Fe22
Adiantum venustumEvergreen Maidenhair Fern01
Asplenium adiantum-nigrumBlack Spleenwort02
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Subject : Adiantum pedatum  

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