Project Description

Southern Maidenhair Fern

Adiantum capillaus–veneris is commonly known as the Southern Maidenhair fern and can be found in temperate and tropical regions worldwide. This is a short, creeping fern that grows to about half a meter tall with the help of short, creeping rhizomes (Missouri Botanical Gardens). It can easily be identified with its bipinnate or tripinnate fronds. Pinnation refers to the arrangement of the leaves arising from both sides of a common axis. The fern also features wiry, black stems along with fan shaped fronds (Missouri Botanical Gardens).

This fern grows well in shade or partly shaded areas, and prefers moist, well-drained sand, loam or limestone soils. They can also be found growing on rock outcropping where moisture is present. This plant provides lush ground cover when water and drainage are adequate (Native Plant Database).

The medicinal uses of the maidenhair fern were discovered primarily by the Native Americans. It has been used by them to treat rheumatism, and an infusion of the plant is used to make a lotion that treats bumblebee and centipede stings (Wyman, 1951). Reportedly the Native Americans have also smoked this plant as it is thought to cure insanity (Wyman, 1951).

Works Cited

Missouri Botanical Gardens. Adiantum capillus – veneris. Accessed from:

Native Plant Database. Adiantum capillus – veneris. Accessed from:

Wyman, LC and Harris, SK. 1951. The ethnobotany of the Kenyata Navajo. University of New Mexico Press. 14.