Adiantum - Adiantaceae

Adiantum lunulatum Burm.f.

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Adiantum philippense L.
Adiantum lunulatum Burm.f. var. fissum H.Christ
Pteris lunulata (Burm.f.) Retz.
Adiantum lunulatum Cav.
Adiantum arcuatum Sw.

Common name

Walking maidenhair fern, or black maidenhair


Rhizome short, suberect or creeping; rhizome scales tapering from the base to a sharp tip, c.3 mm long, dark brown. Fronds monomorphic, tufted, herbaceous, arching. Stipe up to 20 cm long, dark brown to black-purple, shiny, glabrous. Lamina pinnate, linear to lanceolate in outline, 36 × 11 cm, excluding a glabrous extension of the rhachis of varying length, which often ends in a proliferous bud or lamina with a terminal pinna; pinnae numerous (up to 15 pairs), persistent, petiolate, alternate, lunulate in outline, 25-50 × 10-25 mm, reduced in size towards the apex, the midrib forms the lower margin, outer margin irregurly incised into broad lobes; rhachis, pinna-stalklets dark brown to black-purple, hairless; pinna-stalklets 0.2-2.5 (-4) cm long, delicate, those of the lower pinnae longer. Sori elongate on apices of the pinna lobes, indusial flap linear to shallowly lunate, 0.4-2.5 cm wide, hairless.


A. lunulatum is pinnate, has a rhachis that is not hairy and long petiolules. It resembles and A. mendoncae, which has more triangular pinnae with sharply toothed margin. A. soboliferum has a stipe and rhachis that are winged.


lunulatum: moon-shaped; referring to the half-moon shape of the pinnae.


On streambanks in riverine forest, in evergreen forest and in deciduous woodland.

Distribution worldwide

Pantropical and subtropical.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Benin, Burkina Fasso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Dem. Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (incl. Bioko), Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan and South Sudan, Tanzania , Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Epiphytic, lithophytic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Page 120. As A. philippense (Includes a picture).
  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature. Pages 426 - 427. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 225 - 226. As A. philippense (Includes a picture).
  • Kornas, J. (1979) Distribution and ecology of the Pteridophytes in Zambia. Polska Akademia Nauk Wydzial II Nauk Biologicznych. Pages 64 - 65. As A. philippense
  • Roux, J.P. (2009) Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands. Strelitzia 23, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Pages 69 - 70.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 75.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Page 110. As A. philippense (Includes a picture).
  • Verdcourt, B. (2002) Adiantaceae.Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 57 - 58. (Includes a picture).