HOME      •      SEARCH      •      EMAIL    •     ABOUT

Family Pteridaceae
Northern maidenhair fern
Adiantum pedatum Linn.


Scientific names Common names
Adiantum americanum Nieuwl. American maidenhair fern (Engl.)
Adiantum boreale C.Presl. Common maidenhair (Engl.)
Adiantum grandifolium Ching Five-fingered maidenhair fern (Engl.)
Adiantum pedatum Linn.  
Adiantum pedatum L. is an accepted name KEW: Plants of the World Online

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: T’ieh-sien-ts’ao.

Gen info
- Adiantum is a genus of about 200 species in the family Adiantaceae, extensively distributed worldwide from cool temperate zones to hot tropical zones. About 30 species and 5 varieties are found in China, and half of these species have been used in traditional Chinese medicine. (7)
- Adiantum pedatum is a species of fern in the family Pteridaceae, native to moist forests in eastern North America.   The name maidenhair refers to the slender, shining black stipes.
- It was first described by Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753  (the official starting point of modern botanical nomenclature). (11)
- Etymology: Genus name adiantum comes from the Greek word adiantos, meaning unwetted in reference to the water repellent foliage. Pedatum means 'cut like a bird's foot" in reference to the fronds. (5)

Adiantum pedatum is a deciduous, clump-forming terrestrial fern growing up to 60 centimeters tall. Stems are wiry, reddish-brown to black. Frond stalks are somewhat frilly, purplish, forked like a fan, with circular or horseshoe shaped rachis. Leaflets are papery and light green.

- Recently introduced to the Philippines.
- Native to North America.

- Phytochemical screening has of acetone and ethyl acetate extracts yielded terpenoids, cardiac glycosides, steroids, and phenols, with absence of tannin and flavonoids. (see study below) (2)
- Studies for phytoconstituents yielded isofernane-type (isofernene), isophane and neohopane-type         (neohop-12-ene or Neophopene, neohop-13(18)-en-19-a-ol, neohopa-11,13(18)-diene) and norhopane-type (isoglaucanone, glaucanol A, isoadiantone, adiantone, isoadiantol B, adipedatol, and adipedatol Me ether) triterpenoids. Study for fernane type triterpenoids yielded fern-9(11)-ene, 23-hydroxyfernene, fern-7-ene=7-fernene, ferna-7,9(11)-diene, fern-8-ene. (7)
- Studies for chemical constituents have yielded adiantone, adipedatol, caffeic acid, fatty acids, fernene, ferulic acid, filicene, filicinal, iso-fernene, p-coumarin, p-hydrobenzoic acid, protocatechuic acid, sterols, tannin, vanillic acid, and volatile oil. (Singh, 2003) (9)

- Considered to be anti-rheumatic, astringent, demulcent, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, haemostatic, pectoral and tonic.
- Study has suggested antibacterial and antioxidant properties.

Parts used
Fronds, stems.


- Fresh fronds used as garnish.
- Dried fronds used in making tea and refreshing fruit juice drink.
- No reported folkloric use in the Philippines.
- Tea or syrup used for nasal congestion, asthma and sore throats.
- Decoction of leaves used to relieve coughing.
- Root decoction used externally to massage into rheumatic joints.
- North Americans chewed the fronds, then applied them to wounds to stop bleeding.
- Root infusion or decoction rubbed on hands and then to affected area and drunk by Cherokee to treat rheumatism. (6)
- Whole plant infusion used as emetic in agues and fevers.
- Used for bronchitis, whooping cough excessive menses, and dysmenorrhea.
- Plant used as hair conditioner and hair tonic.
- Alcohol leaf extract used topically for thicker hair growth
- Stems used as hair wash to provide shine in the hair.
- In Malaysia, whole plant used for chronic catarrh and other pectoral affections.
- In Chinese traditional medicine, used for relief of fever, to increase urination, remove urinary stones, relief of cough, and to treat diarrhea, hepatitis, hemorrhage, fractures, snakebites, burns and scalds. (7) (8)
- Basketry: Stipe used as ornament in basketry.
- Landscaping: Makes a good ground cover.

Antioxidant / Antibacterial:
Study of two solvent extracts (acetone and ethyl acetate) showed inhibitory activity against S aureus, K pneumonia, P aeruginosa and E coli, with the acetone extract showing more activity. Study for antioxidant activity by DPPH and FRAP showed Adiantum pedatum to be a potential source of natural antioxidants. (see constituents above) (2)
• Antioxidant / Rhizomes: Studies on scavenging effects on DPPH and ABTS radicals were higher in methanol extracts from rhizomes than those from aerial parts. (Shin, 2009) (10)


Updated Aug 2022 / October 2018 / April 2016
May 2011

IMAGE SOURCE: Northern Maidenhair Fern / File:Adiantum pedatum 09905.JPG / Walter Siegmund / (2007:05:15T07:17:16-7.00) / GNU Free Documentation License / Wikimedia Commons
IMAGE SOURCE: Adiantum pedatum / USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. Vol. 1: 31. / alterVISTA

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Adiantum pedatum / Plants For A Future
/ C.P. Chandrappa, C.B. Shilpashree, Karthik M.R, M. Govindappa and T.S. Sadananda / Journal of Phytology 2011, 3(1): 26-32
A Review on the Potential Uses of Ferns / M. Mannar Mannan, M. Maridass and B.Victor / Ethnobotanical Leaflets 12: 281-285. 2008.

Adiantum pedatum
/ Synonyms / KEW: Plants of the World Online

Adiantum pedatum / Missouri Botanical Garden
Adiantum pedatum / Medical Botany: Plants Affecting Human Health / by Walter H Lewis, Memory PF Elvin-Lewis
Phytochemical Constituents and Pharmacological Activities of Plants from the Genus Adiantum: A Review / C Pan, YG Chen, XY Ma, JH Jiang, F He and Y Zhang / Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, October 2011; 10 (5): pp 681-692
Outline of New China Herbals, 1990; Vol. 3: pp 664-668 / Shanghai, China, Shanghai Press of Science and Technology
Medicinal Ferns of Kashmir, India. / Wani M. H., Shah M. Y. and A. R. Naqshi / INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BIOASSAYS, 2016; 5(7): pp 4677-4685 / http://dx.doi.org/10.21746/ijbio.2016.07.003

A review of the use of pteridophytes for treating human ailments* / Xavier-ravi BASKARAN, Antony-varuvel GEO VIGILA, Shou-zhou ZHANG, Shi-xiu FENG, Wen-bo LIAO / J Zhejiang Univ-Sci B (Biomed & Biotechnol), 2018; 19(2): pp 85-119
Adiantum pedatum / Wikipedia

DOI: It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

                                                            List of Understudied Philippine Medicinal Plants

HOME      •      SEARCH      •      EMAIL    •     ABOUT