Adiantum capillus-veneris, the Southern maidenhair fern', black maidenhair fern, maidenhair fern, and venus hair fern, is a species of ferns in the genus Adiantum with a subcosmopolitan worldwide distribution. It is cultivated as a popular garden fern and houseplant.
Adiantum capillus-veneris is native to the southern half of the United States from California to the Atlantic coast, through Mexico and Central America, to South America. It is also native to Eurasia, the Levant in Western Asia, and Australasia. There are two disjunct occurrences in the northern part of North America: at Cascade Springs in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Fairmont Hot Springs, British Columbia. In both instances, the warm microclimate created by hot mineral springs permits the growth of the plant far north of its normal range.
It is found in temperate climates from warm-temperate to tropical, where the moisture content is high but not saturating, in the moist, well-drained sand, loam or limestone many habitats, including rainforests, shrub and woodlands, broadleaf and coniferous forests, and desert cliff seeps, and springs. It often may be seen growing on moist, sheltered and shaded sandstone or limestone formations, generally south-facing in the southern hemisphere, north-facing in the north, or in gorges. It occurs throughout Africa in moist places by streams. On moist sandstone cliffs it grows in full or partial shade, even when unprotected.
Adiantum capillus-veneris grows from 6 to 12 in (15 to 30 cm) in height; its fronds arising in clusters from creeping rhizomes 8 to 27.5 in (20 to 70 cm) tall, with very delicate, light green fronds much subdivided into pinnae 0.2 to 0.4 in (5 to 10 mm) long and broad; the frond rachis is black and wiry.
Adiantum capillus-veneris is cultivated and widely available around the world for planting in natural landscape native plants and traditional shade gardens, for outdoor container gardens, and commonly as an indoor houseplant.
This plant is used medicinally by Native Americans. The Mahuna people use the plant internally for rheumatism, and the Kayenta Navajo use an infusion of the plant as a lotion for bumblebee and centipede stings. The Kayenta also smoke it or take it internally for insanity.
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- The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill
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- Wyman, Leland C. and Stuart K. Harris 1951 The Ethnobotany of the Kayenta Navaho. Albuquerque. The University of New Mexico Press (p. 14)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Adiantum capillus-veneris.|
- Adiantum capillus-veneris - Southern maidenhair fern — U.C. Cal-Photo Gallery
- USDA Profile for Adiantum capillus-veneris (common maidenhair fern)
- Germplasm Resources Information Network: Adiantum capillus-veneris
- U.C. Jepson Manual treatment for Adiantum capillus-veneris
- Adiantum capillus-veneris in the Canary Islands
- Chrono.uk: Spore-pollen studies
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Horticultural Growing Conditions and Propagation