Adiantum pedatum (Maidenhair Fern)
|Also known as:||Northern Maidenhair|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; rich deciduous woods|
|Fruiting season:||summer, fall|
|Plant height:||1 to 2 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FAC MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Leaves and stems:
Stems (stipes) are very slender, dark colored, polished and shining, divided multiple times with thin papery scales on the lower part of the stem. A plant is up to 2 feet across, with branches of compound leaves (fronds) up to 12 inches long, held horizontally and spiraling along the stem, each with up to 24 pairs of leaflets. Leaflets are wider than long, short stalked, often initially fan-shaped, becoming mostly oblong except the leaflet at the tip which remains fan-shaped. Leaflets are notched or lobed on the upper edge while the lower leaflet edge is not lobed. The surface is covered in forked veins.
Maidenhair fern has a wiry, dark, polished stem, making it almost invisible against the backdrop of the forest floor. Makes the leaflets look like they are floating in mid-air—a very graceful plant. There is nothing else quite like it. Maidenhair fern can perform well in a shady home garden in soil with sufficient organic matter. It can form colonies over time but is slow to spread.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Wild River State Park, Chisago County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Goodhue counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?