Edible uses


The fronds are used as a garnish on sweet dishes[1]. The dried fronds are used to make a tea[2][3][4][5][6]. A syrup is made from the plant - it makes a refreshing summer drink[4][6]. The fern (does this refer to the rootstock?) is simmered in water for several hours and the liquid made into a thick syrup with sugar and orange water. It is then mixed with fruit juices to make a refreshing drink.

Unknown part


Material uses

The leaves are used as a hair tonic and treatment for dandruff[7][3][8].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The maidenhair fern has a long history of medicinal use and was the main ingredient of a popular cough syrup called 'Capillaire', which remained in use until the nineteenth century[9]. The plant is little used in modern herbalism. The fresh or dried leafy fronds are antidandruff, antitussive, astringent, demulcent, depurative, emetic, weakly emmenagogue, emollient, weakly expectorant, febrifuge, galactogogue, laxative, pectoral, refrigerant, stimulant, sudorific and tonic[10][11][12][7][13][14][15][8][16][9]. A tea or syrup is used in the treatment of coughs, throat afflictions and bronchitis[8]. It is also used as a detoxicant in alcoholism[11] and to expel worms from the body[8]. Externally, it is used as a poultice on snake bites, bee stings etc[15][8][17]. In Nepal, a paste made from the fronds is applied to the forehead to relieve headaches and to the chest to relieve chest pains[18]. The plant is best used fresh, though it can also be harvested in the summer and dried for later use[11][12].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


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. Germination should take place within 6 weeks[19]. Pot on small clumps of plantlets as soon as they are large enough to handle and keep 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. Best carried out in early spring[19].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Adiantum capillus-veneris. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Requires an abundance of moisture in the air and in the soil[10], though the soil should be well-drained[19]. Likes a position with plenty of light but dislikes full sun[20]. Prefers a sheltered shady position[19]. If the plant dries out temporarily it will lose most of its fronds, though it will usually resprout from the base[19]. Plants are not very hardy outdoors in Britain, even though they are a native species[K]. They only succeed in areas with little or no frosts, growing well on maritime cliffs in the milder areas of the country[K]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[21]. A very ornamental plant[20].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Adiantum capillus-veneris. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Adiantum capillus-veneris.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Adiantum capillus-veneris
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
partial shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type


    1. ? 1.01.1 Mabey. R. Food for Free. Collins ISBN 0-00-219060-5 (1974-00-00)
    2. ? 2.02.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    3. ? Coon. N. The Dictionary of Useful Plants. Rodale Press ISBN 0-87857-090-x (1975-00-00)
    4. ? Johnson. C. P. The Useful Plants of Great Britain. ()
    5. ? 5.05.1 Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3874292169 (1984-00-00)
    6. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    7. ? Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
    8. ? Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
    9. ? Stuart. M. (Editor) The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism Orbis Publishing. London. ISBN 0-85613-067-2 (1979-00-00)
    10. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    11. ? Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
    12. ? Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    15. ? Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
    16. ? 16.016.1 Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
    17. ? 17.017.1 Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
    18. ? 18.018.1 Manandhar. N. P. Plants and People of Nepal Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-527-6 (2002-00-00)
    19. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    20. ? 20.020.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    21. ? Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants J. M. Dent & Sons, London. ISBN 0 460 86048 8 (1990-00-00)
    22. ? Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press (1962-00-00)
    23. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)

    Cite error: <ref> tag with name "PFAFimport-172" defined in <references> is not used in prior text.