Northern Maidenhair Fern, Five-finger fern, Five-fingered Maidenhair, American Maidenhair

Adiantum pedatum

Family: Pteridaceae
Genus: Adiantum (ad-ee-AN-tum) (Info)
Species: pedatum (ped-AH-tum) (Info)
Synonym:Adiantum pedatum var. kamtschaticum
Synonym:Adiantum boreale
Synonym:Adiantum pedatum var. aleuticum
Synonym:Adiantum pedatum var. glaucinum
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Water Requirements:

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Sun Exposure:

Partial to Full Shade


Grown for foliage


Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


9-12 in. (22-30 cm)


USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:


Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From spores

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Anniston, Alabama

Auburn, Alabama

Crescent City, California

Clifton, Colorado

Brookfield, Connecticut

New Milford, Connecticut

Hollywood, Florida

Lakeland, Florida

Atlanta, Georgia

Suwanee, Georgia

Lombard, Illinois

Machesney Park, Illinois

Palmyra, Illinois

Washington, Illinois

Benton, Kentucky

Prospect, Kentucky

Hancock, Maine

Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts

Northfield, Massachusetts

Flushing, Michigan

Pinconning, Michigan

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Piedmont, Missouri

Salem, New Hampshire

Hoboken, New Jersey

Whiting, New Jersey

Painted Post, New York

Schenectady, New York

Southold, New York

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Mars Hill, North Carolina

Pittsboro, North Carolina

Fargo, North Dakota

Glouster, Ohio

Warren, Ohio

Eugene, Oregon

Roseburg, Oregon

Salem, Oregon

Tillamook, Oregon

Walterville, Oregon

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Port Matilda, Pennsylvania

Schwenksville, Pennsylvania

West Chester, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Conway, South Carolina

Rock Hill, South Carolina

Bellaire, Texas

Broaddus, Texas

Alexandria, Virginia

Leesburg, Virginia

Bellevue, Washington (3 reports)

Concrete, Washington

Kalama, Washington

Orchards, Washington

Vancouver, Washington

Wild Rose, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Oct 19, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

A very beautiful fern with a distinctive refined appearance.

Fairly adaptable. Tolerates full sun here (Boston Z6a) with consistent irrigation and good drainage, but prefers part shade. Clumps expand slowly by shallow rhizomes, and are easily divided in early spring. Not aggressive.


On Feb 3, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

A good number of nurseries sell some of this species in the East and Midwest USA. It requires a good quality, moist soil; one that is full of humus or organic matter is best. That soil can be a good quality clay, but not a heavy clay soil or one affected by compaction of new construction.


On Jul 5, 2010, zinmom from Minneapolis, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

Cannot seem to get this started. I just relocated it to a an area with a bit more sun, thinking the shade was too dense. Would acid fertilizer help? Have mildly alkaline soil.


On Mar 8, 2010, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

A beautiful fern-rivals anything tropical. But here's the rub: Its deciduous even on the mild west coast. Its the only Maidenhair available in California nurserys that are. One thing though-it doesnt make a long production of going dormant. In a week or so -it's done.


On Mar 8, 2010, waplummer from Painted Post, NY wrote:

The only difficulty I have had is in a dry location that got the hot afternoon sun. It thrives in part shade and will slowly spread.I have patches that are a meter or more in width.

The western maidenhair, A. aleuticum, is very similar and difficult to distinguish except in the spring when the stapes on aleuticum are green and on pedatum are dark red.


On Mar 7, 2010, dmreed from Poway, CA wrote:

from pictures, I think I have Maidenhair Ferns but here in Poway, CA, they have taken over the north side of the house so last week I took a lawnmower to about 50' of them. the lower stems about 2" tall will not be cut by the mower :>(

I plan to rototile the area, spray with plant killer, cover with black plastic and cement pavers so the stems/roots/spores do not begin again. I will then have different plants in containers on top of the pavers.

the ferns also took over several other garden areas but I finally (I hope) eliminated them.

in this area, they can become a problem plant.


On Jul 6, 2009, CrabgrassCentrl from New Milford, CT wrote:

I transplanted several of these from a riverbank here in Connecticut. It slowly recovered from the shock and grew a bit the following season, and after the world's rainiest spring and early summer, this year it has exploded. It also seems to appreciate a heaping helping of compost.


On Jan 9, 2008, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

Tough but very slow to spread from experience and height tend to vary depending on exposure to winds which can vary from year to year depending on the average height of other plants. Have seen patches in the wild near the St. Croix river.


On Mar 24, 2007, Cretaceous from El Sobrante, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

This fern is native to Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec), Alaska, and the eastern half of the USA (Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia).

Easy to find in nurseries locally. It is listed as an exploitably vulnerable species in the state of New York.


On Aug 23, 2006, docturf from Conway, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:

Was not successful in trying to grow this fern outside, so I simply potted it up in a loamy soil which was modified with some lime. It responded very well, so I keep it inside during our winter months and let it enjoy our coastal South Carolina summers in the shade. Docturf.


On Aug 22, 2006, andycdn from Ottawa, ON (Zone 5a) wrote:

This tough fern grows wild and in profusion in south-eastern Ontario, Canada. I transplanted a piece from my cottage to my town garden, where it enjoys a moist soil and about 3 hours of direct sun daily. It dies back in late fall, and sprouts heartily in late April, with the trilliums. Every two years I cut a third of it off as gifts to friends, and it just keeps coming back. The foliage gets a little brown-edged by late August, understandably. Hmm, sounds like me!


On Nov 30, 2004, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Uncommon, but not rare in these parts, these ferns can be found along shady creekbanks and damp forest floors.

I've transplanted them from the wild with good success, but they never seem as vigorous as some of the other wild ferns.

Delicate and airy, they are very nice along with plants that do not overpower them.


On Jul 3, 2004, DiOhio from Corning, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

This is my very favorite fern. I found several patches of it growing wild in our woods and dug one or two for the yard. After a few years the clumps had grown to 80+ frons ! It does much better in the yard than out in the woods.
I divided one of the clumps and now have Maidenhairs all over the hard, which are getting bigger each year.


On Jun 19, 2001, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

This hardy fern is native to North America. Provide a shaded growing area with a rich, well-drained, alkaline soil. Maintain an adequately moist soil. The fronds are supported by nearly black stems and may provide a display of yellow fall foliage color.

Old folklore said if a maiden handled a stem and the leaves didn't flicker, her virtue was assured.