Adiantum L. - Maidenhair fern

Photo: P. Ballings


Description of the genus

Plants terrestrial or lithophytic. Rhizome erect or shortly to widely creeping with brown rhizome-scales. Stipe dark brown to black, shiny, wiry. Fronds herbaceous, tufted or spaced, monomorphic, simple or 1-4-pinnate or pedate, sometimes with proliferating bud at the rhachis apex; ultimate segments fan- to wedge-shaped, trapezoidal or dimidiate, glabrous or hairy, or sometimes with yellow powder on undersurface, stalked. Sori borne on the inner surface of marginal reflexed lobes which also serve as pseudo-indusia.


Derivation of name:  adiantos: dry, untouched by water; referring to the ability of the leaves to remain dry in rain, the water forming pearly droplets on the surface

Worldwide: 200 species, pantropical but mainly South America and southern Africa


Key to the species of Adiantum: PDF


We have 18 taxa in the database for Adiantum.

  • Adiantum aethiopicum L.
  • Adiantum balfourii Baker
  • Adiantum capillus-veneris L.
  • Adiantum comorense (Tardieu) Verdc.
  • Adiantum concinnum Willd.
  • Adiantum formosum R. Br.
  • Adiantum hispidulum Sw. var. hispidulum
  • Adiantum incisum Forssk.
  • Adiantum lunulatum Burm.f.
  • Adiantum mendoncae Alston
  • Adiantum patens Willd. ssp. oatesii (Bak.) Schelpe
  • Adiantum poiretii J.E. Wikstr.
  • Adiantum raddianum C.Presl
  • Adiantum reniforme L.
  • Adiantum schweinfurthii Kuhn
  • Adiantum soboliferum Hook.
  • Adiantum stolzii Brause
  • Adiantum vogelii Mett. ex Keyserl.


  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature.
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13: 1-222.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0: 1-254.
  • Verdcourt, B. (2002) Adiantaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, .