Adiantum pedatum L.

northern maidenhair fern

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Maidenhair fern is found in rich, moist forests throughout New England. It has a distinctive dark, wiry stem and rachis. Both the entire blade and individual pinnules (sub-leaflets) are fan-shaped. Native Americans made use of this plant to treat a variety of conditions, including rheumatism, fever, heart disease, and asthma, as well as using the stems in basketry and to insert in a pierced ear lobe to keep it from closing.

Habitat

Forests, talus and rocky slopes

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Leaf divisions
the leaf blade is three times compound (divided into leaflets, which are further divided into leaflets, which are further divided into leaflets), or more
Plant growth form
the leaves grow from a rhizome growing at or below the ground
Spore-bearing leaflets
the spore-bearing fronds are similar in size and shape to the sterile fronds
Sorus shape
there are no sori, or they are concealed in leaf segments or hardened, capsule-like structures derived from a modified leaflet
Leaf stalk scales
  • the leaf stalk has scales
  • there are no scales on the leaf stalk
Leaf stalk hairs
  • the leaf stalk has hairs
  • there are no hairs on the leaf stalk
Leaf blade length
15–30 cm
Leaf vein tips
the veins go all the way to the edge of the leaf blade
Show All Characteristics
  • Growth form
    Life form
    the plant is herbaceous and terrestrial
    Life stage
    the plant is visible as a typical leaf-bearing fern (sporophyte)
    Spore-bearing leaflets
    the spore-bearing fronds are similar in size and shape to the sterile fronds
  • Leaves
    Features of leaves
    the petiole (leaf stalk or stipe) appears to fork into two equal halves
    Leaf blade length
    15–30 cm
    Leaf blade shape
    the leaf blades are roughly fan-shaped
    Leaf blade tip shape
    the tip of the leaf blade is a blunt point (obtuse)
    Leaf blade width
    At least 15 cm
    Leaf divisions
    the leaf blade is three times compound (divided into leaflets, which are further divided into leaflets, which are further divided into leaflets), or more
    Leaf lifespan
    the leaves drop off in winter
    Leaf stalk color
    red or red-brown to purple or black
    Leaf stalk hairs
    • the leaf stalk has hairs
    • there are no hairs on the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk length
    100–600 mm
    Leaf stalk relative length
    the leaf stalk is more than three quarters as long as the blade
    Leaf stalk scale location
    the scales are present only on the lower half of the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk scales
    • the leaf stalk has scales
    • there are no scales on the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk vessels
    1 bundle, U-shaped
    Leaf vein branching
    the secondary veins of the leaf blade branch dichotomously (two equal branches at each branch point)
    Leaf vein tips
    the veins go all the way to the edge of the leaf blade
    Leaflet stalks
    the leaflets are stalked
    Lobe or leaflet length
    40–170 mm
    Lobe or leaflet shape
    the lobe or leaflet is rectangular but with rounded ends (oblong)
    Lobe or leaflet width
    Up to 40 mm
    Plant growth form
    the leaves grow from a rhizome growing at or below the ground
    final leaf segment margin
    the topmost lobe or leaflet of the leaf blade has a smooth or lobed edge
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • forests
    • talus or rocky slopes
  • Spores or spore cones
    Sorus features
    there are no special features on the sorus
    Sorus shape
    there are no sori, or they are concealed in leaf segments or hardened, capsule-like structures derived from a modified leaflet
    Sporangia location
    the spores are hidden inside hardened, rolled-under leaf segments
    Sporangium type
    the sporangia are opaque without an annulus and usually without a stalk (leptosporangiate)
    Spore forms
    there is only one type of spore present

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but occasionally in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACU)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
Vermont
widespread (S-rank: S5)

Native to North America?

Yes

Family

Pteridaceae

Genus

Adiantum

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