Southern Maidenhair Fern Adiantm capillus-veneris

The common southern maidenhair fern, Adiantum capillus-veneris, is so called because it is more tender than the northern or American maidenhair. German legend of Venus’s hair.

Legend of the Maidenhair Fern:

According to an old German legend, A. capillus-veneris originated when a maiden, startled by her lover turning into a wolf (who wouldn’t be?), fell off a cliff.

A spring appeared where she landed and her hair turned into a fern.

Other legends hold that this species has the power to thicken or curl a lady’s hair.

Adiantm capillus-veneris is hardy outdoors from zone 7-10.

This wild fern is native to the southern U.S. and Hawaii as well as South Africa, Mexico, Turkey, Cuba, and Greece.

It is on the endangered list in some areas so check before digging up wild plants.

Here it is growing outdoors in Orlando, FL.

The fronds arise from an underground rhizome.  The overall shape of each frond is that of an elongated oval.  Mature fronds vary in length from 6-20 inches.

The interesting shape of its leaflets is what sets the common maidenhair fern apart from other species. To me, they look like tiny gingko leaves.

They are arranged along wiry black stems which curve every which way like a frizzy head of hair. In fact, another name for it is Venus’ hair fern.

Give it good light but no direct sun and constant moisture. Its high humidity requirement can make it difficult to grow indoors. 

The southern maidenhair is unusual, among ferns,  in that it prefers alkaline soil. A pH of 7.0-8.0 is most pleasing.  Try planting it among limestone rocks, or near a concrete walk way or patio.

When growing these ferns in containers, add two tablespoons of horticultural lime to each cubic foot of soil before setting the plants in.

Other Wonderful Ferns:

Ostrich Fern
How to grow Matteuccua struthiopteris. Transplanting ostrich ferns. Facts about ostrich plume fern propagation and fiddleheads.

Adiantum Pedatum
Care of the American maidenhair fern. What to do if your fern develops brown spots.

Southern Lady Fern
About Athyrium felix-femina asplenioides syn. Athyrium asplenioides. Also the Victoriae lady fern and the crested lady fern. Lady fern facts.

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