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Home > Landscaping > Native Plants for Western Washington Gardens and Restoration Projects



Adiantum aleuticum

Maidenhair Fern, Aleutian maidenhair, western maidenhair, serpentine maidenhair

This species does not produce flowers
Partial sun Mostly shady Full shade
Moist soil


At a Glance: Small to medium-sized delicate, deciduous fern with a fan-shaped arrangement of five to seven fingerlike branchlets each bearing many toothed leaflets.

Height: 6-43 inches (15-110 cm).
Growth Form: Herb or fern.
Stems: Stems are shiny and wiry, ranging in color from dark brown to purplish or black.
Leaves: Leaves are deciduous and palmately branched to form an open umbrella with fan-shaped segments that are smooth and flat on the lower margin and cleft into ragged rectangular lobes on the upper margin (Pojar, 425); size: 10-40 cm (4-16 in) across; color: light to bright green. Spore-bearing and sterile leaves are similar in appearance. Leaves are resistant to wetting and shed rain.
Flowers: No flowers; Spore-bearing sori are found on the underside of the leaf, protected by indusium-like inrolled leaf margins.
Flowering Period: none.
Fruits: No fruits, although spores are produced in the summer and fall.

Adiantum aleuticum
Photo © 2003, Starflower Foundation
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Sun/Shade Tolerance Hydrology Elevation Range
Prefers cool, shady sites.

full sun > 80%
mostly sunny 60%-80%
partial sun and shade 40%- 60%
mostly shady 60%-80%
full shade > 80%

Prefers moist soils.

wet
moist
dry

Wetland Indicator Status:
low elevation
mid elevation
sub-alpine
high elevation


Soil Preferences
Prefers humus rich soils and well-drained, moist sites. Tolerant of serpentine soils.
sandy soils
gravelly soils
clay soils
muddy soils
peaty soils
well drained soils
shallow soils
deep soils
acidic soils
basic soils
humic soils
nutrient rich soils
nutrient poor soils
mineral soils
organic soils

Habitat Preferences
Aquatic and Wetland:
Ponds or lakes
Shallow pools
Sloughs
Swales or wet ditches
Seasonally inundated areas
Marshes or swamps
Aquatic bed wetlands
Emergent wetlands
Scrub-shrub wetlands
Forested wetlands
Bogs, fens
Seeps, springs
Shorelines and Riparian:
Lake shores
Bog margins
Streams or rivers
Stream or river banks
Riparian corridors
River bars
Floodplains
Bottomlands
Alluvial areas
Saltwater Areas:
In or near saltwater
Mud flats
Tidal areas
Estuaries
Saltmarshes
Brackish water
Seashores
Coastal dunes or beaches
Rocky or Gravelly Areas:
Coastal bluffs
Cliffs
Rocky slopes
Outcrops
Crevices
Glacial outwash
Gullies
Slide areas
Sub-alpine and Alpine:
Heaths
Snow beds
Tundra
Avalanche tracks
Forests and Thickets:
Forests and woods
Open forests
Coniferous forests
Old growth forests
Deciduous forests
Mixed forests
Nurse logs
Forest edges, openings, or clearings
Thickets
Meadows and Fields:
Pastures or fields
Meadows or grassy areas
Mossy areas
Disturbed Areas:
Roadsides
Trailsides
Logged sites
Burned areas
Disturbed sites


Wildlife Value
(data not available)

Ethnobotanical Uses and Other Facts
Material Uses: Used in basketry and as a screen to dry berries.
Medicinal Uses: Hesquiat people used as a medicine for strength/endurance. Europeans used it as a cough medicine and for its emetic properties.
Name Info: The genus name, Adiantum, comes from the Greek meaning "without wetting", referring to its rain-shedding leaves. The common name "maidenhair" could refer to either the thin black stems or the hair-like fibrous root clusters.


Suggested References



The landscaping and restoration information provided on this page is taken from the Starflower Foundation Image Herbarium. All photographs © Starflower Foundation unless otherwise noted.