Adiantaceae - Maidenhairs and shoelace ferns

Photo: P. Ballings


Description of the family

Plants terrestrial, lithophytic or epiphytic. Small to medium sized ferns. Rhizome erect, suberect or creeping, with scales. Fronds numerous, spaced or tufted, monomorphic, simple and entire or divided, veins free or anastomising. Stipe dark, often shiny, not articulated. Sori in soral lines in marginal or submarginal grooves or along the veins, or borne marginally, covered by modified marginal pseudo-indusium, exindusiate; exindusiate; sporangia long or short stalked, paraphyses often present; spores trilete, homosporus.

Comment: Sometimes included as a subfamily in the Pteridaceae.

Worldwide: 12 genera, c. 300 species worldwide



  • Adiantum L.
  • Antrophyum Kaulf.
  • Coniogramme Fée
  • Vittaria Sm.


  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M.2011Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature.
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G.1983The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E.1970Pteridophyta. Flora Zambesiaca, 0: 1-254.
  • Verdcourt, B.2002Adiantaceae. Flora of Tropical East Africa, .