Northern Maidenhair (Adiantum pedatum)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Northern Maidenhair
Adiantum pedatum
Polypodiaceae

The stipe of the plant is used as an ornament in basketry[172, 157].

The leaves can be used as a lining for carrying or storing fruits in baskets and on racks[257].

The plant is used as a hair conditioner[172]. The stems have been used as a hair wash to make the hair shiny[222].

Plants can be used for ground cover when planted about 30cm apart either way, they form a slowly spreading clump[208].

  • Medicinal Use

    The whole plant is considered to be antirheumatic, astringent, demulcent, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, haemostatic, pectoral and tonic[172, 222, 240]. A tea or syrup is used in the treatment of nasal congestion, asthma, sore throats etc[222]. A decoction of the root was massaged into rheumatic joints[257]. The N. American Indians chewed the fronds and then applied them to wounds to stop bleeding[213].

    A strong infusion of the whole plant was has been used as an emetic in the treatment of ague and fevers[257].

    This plant was highly valued as a medicinal plant in the 19th century and merits scientific investigation[222].

  • Edible Use

    None known

  • Cautionary Notes

    Although we have found no reports of toxicity for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable[200]. Many ferns also contain thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of its vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase[172].

Cultivation & Habitat

Spores – best sown as soon as ripe on the surface of a humus-rich sterilized soil. Keep the compost moist, preferably by putting a plastic bag over the pot. Pot on small clumps of plantlets as soon as they are large enough to handle and keep them humid until they are well established. Do not plant outside until the ferns are at least 2 years old and then only in a very well sheltered position. Division in spring or autumn.
Easily grown in a cool moist shady position[1, 187]. Requires an abundance of moisture in the air and soil[1]. Prefers an alkaline soil[200]. Requires an acid soil according to another report. A very ornamental plant[1], it does not always succeed outdoors in Britain[1]. It probably prefers to be covered in snow overwinter – could a mulch help[1]? Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233]. Plants have a slowly-increasing rootstock[233].
N. America – Alaska to Quebec and Nova Scotia, south to California and Georgia. E. Asia

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.