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TREES & plants

Maidenhair fern

Maidenhair fern fronds.

Maidenhair fern is a unique, airy fern with fan-shaped fronds growing around a horseshoe-shaped stem. Maidenhair ferns spread to form dense patches.

Botanical name: 
Adiantum pedatum
All Common Names: 
Maidenhair Fern, Northern Maidenhair fern
Family (English): 
Maidenhair fern
Family (Botanic): 
Pteridiaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Ground cover, 
  • Perennial
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Chicago area, 
  • Illinois, 
  • North America
Landscape Uses: 
  • Foundation, 
  • Mixed border
Size Range: 
  • Medium plant (12-24 inches)
Light Exposure: 
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily), 
  • Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 3, 
  • Zone 4, 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7, 
  • Zone 8
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil, 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Season of Interest: 
  • Mid spring, 
  • Late spring, 
  • Early summer, 
  • Mid summer, 
  • Late summer
Shape or Form: 
  • Creeping, 
  • Irregular
Growth Rate: 
  • Slow
More Information: 

Size and Method of spreading

1 to 2 feet high and 1 to 1 1/2 feet wide.  Maidenhair fern can be used as a clump-forming ground cover.  Clump-forming ground covers are plants that are not usually thought of as ground covers.  They are perennials that can be planted closely together to provide the visual effect of a ground cover.

Tree & Plant Care

Excellent plant for naturalizing and shade garden.
Prefers moist, humus-rich soils in full to part  shade.
Plants tend to burn in full sun.
Divide clumps when patch gets too crowded.

Disease, pests and problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 10
Native to the eastern half of the United States.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Delicate fronds emerge in spring.
Green, fan-shaped fronds on horseshoe-shaped rachis.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Non-flowering

Adiantum pedatum or Maidenhair fern