Adiantum capillus-veneris - L.
Common Name Maidenhair Fern, Common maidenhair, Southern Maidenhair Fern, Venus Maidenhair Fern, Venus's Hair Fe
Family Polypodiaceae
USDA hardiness 8-11
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 Rock crevices, cliffs by the sea on basic rocks in damp positions[9, 17].
Range Tropical and warm temperate zones throughout the world, including Britain.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Half Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade

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Form: Spreading or horizontal, Upright or erect.

Adiantum capillus-veneris Maidenhair Fern, Common maidenhair, Southern Maidenhair Fern, Venus Maidenhair Fern, Venus

(c) ken Fern, Plants For A Future 2010
Adiantum capillus-veneris Maidenhair Fern, Common maidenhair, Southern Maidenhair Fern, Venus Maidenhair Fern, Venus
(c) ken Fern, Plants For A Future 2010
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of fern
Adiantum capillus-veneris is a FERN growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9 and is frost tender. The seeds ripen from May to September. Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.


Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Cultivated Beds; West Wall. In.
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Drink;  Tea.

The fronds are used as a garnish on sweet dishes[5]. The dried fronds are used to make a tea[2, 106, 115, 177, 183]. A syrup is made from the plant - it makes a refreshing summer drink[115, 183]. The fern (does this refer to the rootstock?) is simmered in water for several hours and the liquid made into a thick syrup with sugar and orange water. It is then mixed with fruit juices to make a refreshing drink.
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.

Antidandruff;  Antitussive;  Depurative;  Emmenagogue;  Expectorant;  Galactogogue;  Refrigerant;  Stings;  
Tonic;  Vermifuge.

The maidenhair fern has a long history of medicinal use and was the main ingredient of a popular cough syrup called 'Capillaire', which remained in use until the nineteenth century[268]. The plant is little used in modern herbalism. The fresh or dried leafy fronds are antidandruff, antitussive, astringent, demulcent, depurative, emetic, weakly emmenagogue, emollient, weakly expectorant, febrifuge, galactogogue, laxative, pectoral, refrigerant, stimulant, sudorific and tonic[4, 7, 9, 21, 46, 61, 218, 222, 240, 268]. A tea or syrup is used in the treatment of coughs, throat afflictions and bronchitis[222]. It is also used as a detoxicant in alcoholism[7] and to expel worms from the body[222]. Externally, it is used as a poultice on snake bites, bee stings etc[218, 222, 257]. In Nepal, a paste made from the fronds is applied to the forehead to relieve headaches and to the chest to relieve chest pains[272]. The plant is best used fresh, though it can also be harvested in the summer and dried for later use[7, 9].


Other Uses

The leaves are used as a hair tonic and treatment for dandruff[21, 106, 222].
Cultivation details
Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Ground cover, Woodland garden. Requires an abundance of moisture in the air and in the soil[4], though the soil should be well-drained[238]. Likes a position with plenty of light but dislikes full sun[1]. Prefers a sheltered shady position[238]. If the plant dries out temporarily it will lose most of its fronds, though it will usually resprout from the base[238]. Plants are not very hardy outdoors in Britain, even though they are a native species[K]. They only succeed in areas with little or no frosts, growing well on maritime cliffs in the milder areas of the country[K]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233]. A very ornamental plant[1]. Special Features:Attractive foliage, Not North American native, Naturalizing, 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. Germination should take place within 6 weeks[238]. Pot on small clumps of plantlets as soon as they are large enough to handle and keep 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. Best carried out in early spring[238].
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 pedatumNorthern Maidenhair,American Maidenhair Fern02
Adiantum venustumEvergreen Maidenhair Fern01
Asplenium adiantum-nigrumBlack Spleenwort02


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Readers comment
holly jackson   Tue Apr 8 2008
Yeah, do be careful because my Mum is allergic to ferns and gets a really nasty rash from them, so make sure you are not allergic first.
TONMAY SAMADDER   Fri Oct 16 2009
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Subject : Adiantum capillus-veneris  

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