Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database

Adiantum aleuticum (Maidenhair Fern, Serpentine Maidenhair, Aleutian Maidenhair, Five-Fingered Fern)



 Plantae – Plants


 Tracheobionta – Vascular plants


 Pteridophyta – Ferns






 Pteridaceae – Maidenhair Fern family


 Adiantum L. – maidenhair fern


 Adiantum aleuticum (Rupr.) Paris – Aleutian maidenhair

A deciduous, delicate, and dainty fern, growing from 1 – 2’ tall.

Strong, shiny purple-black stems grow erect and split in two, from which fan horizontal fronds of tiny leaflets, spreading like the fingers of a hand.

The Maidenhair Fern grows in moist and shaded crevices in rocks, especially near falling or rushing water, where the plant benefits from the constant mist. More tender than some of the other northwest native ferns, the beauty of this unique plant lends itself to small vignettes in company with other woodland natives.

It is native both east and west of the Cascade Mountains and is also found scattered along the eastern seaboard, being hardy from USDA zones 3-8.

There are many stories to explain this plant’s common name, the liveliest relating a practice of testing a girl’s virtue: if she could handle the stem without causing the leaves to tremble, then she was chaste.


Photo, right, credit: Walter Siegmund


Drawing, right, credit: Elizabeth A. Tudor

This rustic basket made from twining twigs

was planted in the spring with Maidenhair Fern

(Adiantum aleuticum) and Bunchberry (Cornus

unalaschkensis). Shown here the following

September, it still makes a charming

outdoor centerpiece.

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