Adiantum capillus-veneris - L.
Southern Maidenhair Fern
Other English Common Names: Common Maidenhair, Southern Maidenhair
Other Common Names: common maidenhair
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Adiantum capillus-veneris L. (TSN 17308)
French Common Names: adiante cheveux-de-Vénus
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.158611
Element Code: PPADI03010
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Ferns and relatives
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Filicinophyta Filicopsida Filicales Pteridaceae Adiantum
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Adiantum capillus-veneris
Taxonomic Comments: Some have preferred to divide this species into three infraspecific taxa: var. modestum in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah; var. protrusum from the approximate remainder of the U.S. range (Lellinger 1985); and in addition the typical variety. However, most authors disregard this varietal separation or imply that it is not helpful (e.g., Cronquist et al. 1972, Kartesz 1999). Plants counted in the eastern hemisphere have been diploid (2n = 60); in contrast, "several tetraploid counts have been reported from North America... Spore-measurement data, however, suggest that the polyploid cytotype may not be widely distributed" (FNA 1993).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 26Aug2016
Global Status Last Changed: 16Nov1983
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Adiantum capillus-veneris is globally widespread in tropical and warm-temperate regions, including Eurasia, Africa, the West Indies, North America, Central America and South America (in Venezuela and Peru). The North American range includes roughly the southern one-third of the U.S., and within this range the species is fairly common and facing few threats.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5
Nation: Canada
National Status: N1 (25Oct2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (SNR), Arizona (SNR), Arkansas (SNR), California (SNR), Colorado (S2), Florida (S3S4), Georgia (S4), Hawaii (SNR), Kentucky (S2S3), Louisiana (SNR), Maryland (SNR), Mississippi (S2), Missouri (SNR), Navajo Nation (S3S4), Nevada (SNR), New Mexico (SNR), North Carolina (S1), Oklahoma (SNR), South Carolina (SNR), South Dakota (S1), Tennessee (SNR), Texas (SNR), Utah (SNR), Virginia (SH)
Canada British Columbia (S1)

Other Statuses

Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1/Annexe 1 Status: E (05Jun2003)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Endangered (06May2011)
Comments on COSEWIC: Reason for designation: This delicate fern is known in Canada from three to four subpopulations in a single natural hot spring in southeastern British Columbia. It is threatened by changes in hydrology, development, recreational activities and collection, and is limited by availability of suitable microhabitat conditions. Large declines (greater than 90%) have been recorded in the past 10 years, though the plant may remain dormant underground and one subpopulation has rebounded after four survey years in which few or no fronds were detected.

Status history: Designated Endangered in April 1984. Status re-examined and confirmed in April 1998, May 2000, and May 2011.

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: This species is globally widespread in tropical and warm-temperate regions, including Eurasia, Africa, the West Indies, Central America and South America (in Venezuela and Peru). The North American range includes roughly the southern one-third of the U.S., with additional disjunct populations in South Dakota and British Columbia (Flora of North America Editorial Committee 1993). In North America, it is sometimes escaped from cultivation north of its natural range (Lellinger 1985, Gleason and Cronquist 1963). Populations in California may be introduced (Hickman 1993). Known in Colorado (Moffat, Mesa, Montrose, Ouray, Montezuma and Las Animas counties).


Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: At least hundreds and possibly thousands of populations are extant rangewide, which is nearly cosmopolitan. Arkansas: common throughout the Ozarks (Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission); Kentucky: 31 occurrences documented, but several are general or unmappable records (Nick Drozda, pers. comm.); Georgia: documented in six counties (Georgia Natural Heritage Program); Mississippi: at least 100 populations likely, though the species is uncommon and has been documented in only two counties (Mississippi Natural Heritage Program); Missouri: widely scattered in appropriate habitat (Tim Smith, pers. comm.); Nevada: scattered in appropriate habitat in the south (Nevada Natural Heritage Program); Texas: locally common on seep zones and on creek banks in limestone canyons on the Edwards Plateau, hundreds to thousands of populations are estimated (Bill Carr, pers. comm.); British Columbia: one population known within a commercial resort development (British Columbia Conservation Data Centre); South Dakota: one occurrence, relatively stable since 1898 (David Ode, pers. comm.); Colorado: 12 known occurrences from five counties, but most have not been updated in over 30 years (Colorado Natural Heritage Program).

Population Size Comments: Uncommon (or locally common) in California (Hickman 1993). Rare in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia (Weakley 1997).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: An individual knowledgable about the U.S. herbal medicinal industry states that trade in the plant is minor, on the order of 150-300 pounds per year, and that it is probably the aboveground parts that are utilized (McGuffin, pers. comm.).

Although this species is common on the Edwards Plateau in Texas, no evidence of collection has been observed (Bill Carr, pers. comm.). The closely related species, Adiantum pedatum is on the United Plant Savers "To Watch List" (United Plant Savers 2000).

Seepages are the primary habitat of A. capillus-veneris. Seepages are vulnerable to changes in their water source, such as pollution or water diversion and loss. The threat of water diversion and loss is higher in arid regions, where water sources (including groundwater) are more coveted. In Kentucky, the impoundment of rivers and streams has inundated large areas of habitat for this species (Nick Drozda, pers. comm.).

Short-term Trend: Increase of >10%
Short-term Trend Comments: If this species is not native to California, as has been suggested, then A. capillus-veneris has increased significantly in California. Also, this plant has necessarily spread beyond its original range, probably moving northwards and escaping, due to its use in gardens (Lellinger 1985, Hickman 1993, Gleason and Cronquist 1963).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: This species is globally widespread in tropical and warm-temperate regions, including Eurasia, Africa, the West Indies, Central America and South America (in Venezuela and Peru). The North American range includes roughly the southern one-third of the U.S., with additional disjunct populations in South Dakota and British Columbia (Flora of North America Editorial Committee 1993). In North America, it is sometimes escaped from cultivation north of its natural range (Lellinger 1985, Gleason and Cronquist 1963). Populations in California may be introduced (Hickman 1993). Known in Colorado (Moffat, Mesa, Montrose, Ouray, Montezuma and Las Animas counties).


U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, HI, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, NC, NM, NN, NV, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA
Canada BC

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CO Hinsdale (08053)*, Las Animas (08071), Mesa (08077), Moffat (08081), Montezuma (08083), Montrose (08085), Ouray (08091)*, San Juan (08111)*
KY Green (21087), Hart (21099), Logan (21141), Morgan (21175), Nelson (21179)*, Pulaski (21199), Wayne (21231)
MS Clarke (28023), Hinds (28049), Noxubee (28103)*, Tippah (28139), Wayne (28153), Wilkinson (28157)*
NC Columbus (37047)
SD Fall River (46047)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Waccamaw (03040206)+, Middle Tombigbee-Lubbub (03160106)+*, Noxubee (03160108)+*, Upper Chickasawhay (03170002)+
05 Licking (05100101)+, Upper Green (05110001)+, Upper Cumberland-Lake Cumberland (05130103)+, South Fork Cumberland (05130104)+, Red (05130206)+, Salt (05140102)+*
08 Upper Hatchie (08010207)+, Lower Mississippi-Natchez (08060100)+*, Lower Big Black (08060202)+
10 Angostura Reservoir (10120106)+
11 Purgatoire (11020010)+, Cimarron headwaters (11040001)+
14 Upper Gunnison (14020002)+*, Uncompahange (14020006)+*, Upper Dolores (14030002)+, Lower Dolores (14030004)+, Lower Yampa (14050002)+, Mancos (14080107)+, Mcelmo (14080202)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Adiantum capillus-veneris is a fern with creeping rhizomes (i.e., spreading laterally) and fragile-looking, twice- or thrice-compound leaves with leaf blades from 8-30 cm in length (Lellinger 1985). It generally inhabits moist cliffs or slopes (Gleason and Cronquist 1963).
General Description: Adiantum capillus-veneris is a fern with creeping rhizomes (i.e., spreading laterally) and fragile-looking, twice- or thrice-pinnately compound leaves with leaf blades from 8-30 cm in length (Lellinger 1985). The slender, dark rachis (stem) is smooth and shiny.
Technical Description: From CNHP Wetland Guide 2012: Plants terrestrial. Stems short-creeping; scales golden brown to medium brown, iridescent, margins entire or occasionally with single broad tooth near base.
Leaves lax-arching or pendent, closely spaced, 15--75 cm. Petiole 0.5--1.5 mm diam., glabrous, occasionally glaucous. Blade lanceolate, pinnate, 10--45 × 4--15 cm, glabrous, gradually reduced distally; proximal pinnae 3(--4)-pinnate; rachis straight to flexuous, glabrous, not glaucous. Segment stalks 0.5--3.5 mm, dark color extending into segment base. Ultimate segments various, generally cuneate or fan-shaped to irregularly rhombic (plants in American southwest occasionally with segments nearly round), about as long as broad; base broadly to narrowly cuneate; margins shallowly to deeply lobed, incisions 0.5--7 mm, occasionally ± laciniate, sharply denticulate in sterile segments; apex rounded to acute. Indusia transversely oblong or crescent-shaped, 1--3(--7) mm, glabrous .
Spores mostly 40--50 µm diam.



From CNHP Wetland Guide 2012: Plants terrestrial. Stems short-creeping; scales golden brown to medium brown, iridescent, margins entire or occasionally with single broad tooth near base.
Leaves lax-arching or pendent, closely spaced, 15--75 cm. Petiole 0.5--1.5 mm diam., glabrous, occasionally glaucous. Blade lanceolate, pinnate, 10--45 × 4--15 cm, glabrous, gradually reduced distally; proximal pinnae 3(--4)-pinnate; rachis straight to flexuous, glabrous, not glaucous. Segment stalks 0.5--3.5 mm, dark color extending into segment base. Ultimate segments various, generally cuneate or fan-shaped to irregularly rhombic (plants in American southwest occasionally with segments nearly round), about as long as broad; base broadly to narrowly cuneate; margins shallowly to deeply lobed, incisions 0.5--7 mm, occasionally ± laciniate, sharply denticulate in sterile segments; apex rounded to acute. Indusia transversely oblong or crescent-shaped, 1--3(--7) mm, glabrous .
Spores mostly 40--50 µm diam.

Diagnostic Characteristics: This is the only Adiantum found at lower elevations. It is distinctive in its broad, delicate, fan-shaped leaflets.  The sori (clusters of spore bearing structures) are marginal, borne beneath reflexed margins of the lobes on the leaf segments.
                From CNHP Wetland Guide 2012: Main Characteristics:
Ultimate leaf segments fan-shaped or irregularly rhombic
Frond once pinnate with a single main axis
Sori discontinuous and borne on the reflexed margins of the upper lobes of ultimate segments

Duration: PERENNIAL
Habitat Comments: Adiantum capillus-veneris occurs on moist, rocky areas - including moist cliffs and seeps (especially on calcareous or alkaline rocks or in very mineralized soil) (Cronquist et al. 1972), springs, wet stream banks (Great Plains Flora Association 1986), within the spray of waterfalls (Lellinger 1985), canyon walls in the southwest U.S., on building foundations, and on the mortar of storm drains. It is found at elevations from 0-2500 meters (Flora of North America Editorial Committee 1993). It generally inhabits moist cliffs or slopes (Gleason and Cronquist 1963).
Economic Attributes
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Economically Important Genus: Y
Commercial Importance: Indigenous crop, Minor cash crop
Economic Uses: FOOD, MEDICINE/DRUG, OTHER USES/PRODUCTS
Economic Comments: This species appears to have had some minor Native American medicinal use (Weiner 1980). It is used for coughs and is sometimes combined with licorice or licorice fern (Polypodium spp.) for this purpose. In decoction or as a syrup it makes a soothing, cooling drink for flu, fevers, and inflammation. It also is used to promote healthy hair (AllHerb 2000). It is reported to be used in the southwestern U.S. for building bones and cartilage; and it has similar uses as horsetails and nettles (Robyn Klein, pers. comm.).

Prices for this species were found as follows:

U.S., Internet: $24.71/120 tablets.

Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: The natural habitats of this species (mineralized seepages) often occur as very geographically distinctive units, especially in the arid U.S. Southwest, where canyon or drainage networks may be scattered and well defined; thus A. capillus-veneris populations in this region are probably often clustered and clearly separated. Unsuitable habitat separates locations where A. capillus-veneris can occur.

Justification: By its very nature, seeping water (and most flowing water) is derived from geographically larger areas of water intake which are themselves unsuitable habitats for this fern.


Date: 21Jan2000
Author: Spackman, S.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 21Jan2000
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: S. Spackman, D. Anderson and S. Thomas, 1/2000; rev. E. Nielsen, 1/2000.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 12May2010
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): S. SPACKMAN, D. ANDERSON & S. THOMAS; REV. E. NIELSEN; rev. Parker, J. (2010).

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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