Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Northern Maidenhair Fern - Adiantum pedatum   L.
Members of Pteridaceae:
Members of Adiantum with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 2 » Order Polypodiales » Family Pteridaceae
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DistributionThroughout the Mountains and Piedmont; scattered at several sites in the Coastal Plain, mainly along brownwater rivers. A specimen from "Dare" County (at DUKE) is actually from Davie County.

This is a widespread species in the Eastern part of the continent, from eastern Canada south to central GA, LA, and OK.
AbundanceCommon in the Mountains, fairly common to locally common in the Piedmont, locally infrequent along the Roanoke and Cape Fear rivers into the Coastal Plain but otherwise very rare in the province.
HabitatThis fern grows in rich hardwood forests, such as Rich Cove Forests, Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forests, some Basic Mesic Forests, and a few other similar sites with moderately high pH soil.
PhenologyFruits from June to August.
IdentificationThis is certainly a familiar fern and one of the easiest to identify. It has a deep purple-brown petiole and rachis, which has a dichotomous branching about 1 foot off the ground, with all pinnae on the same side of these two rachises, to form a horizontal layer of pinnae in a circular ring. Each pinna is about 8 inches long, with numerous pinnules on each side, they being oblong and wavy edged on one side. The spread of the frond is about 1.5-2 feet across, though the overall height of a plant is barely more than 1-1.5 feet tall. The circular-looking frond, with all pinnae extending outward from the curvatures of the rachises, presents a memorable appearance, especially when a sizable number are found on a forested slope.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Northern Maidenhair, Maidenhair Fern, Five-fingered Fern
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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B.A. SorrieUwharrie National Forest, rich rocky slope. May 2018. MontgomeryPhoto_natural
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