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Venus’-hair fern, Southern maidenhair, Common maidenhair
Adiantum capillus-veneris

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General Landscape Uses: A delicate accent fern on exposed moist limestone in rock gardens and on the banks of water features such as natural pools.

Ecological Restoration Notes: In South Florida, this is not known as a natural component of the landscape and is not an appropriate component of ecological restoration projects. In north-central Florida and the Panhandle, this is an uncommon to rare element but may be appropriate for some projects.

Availability: Widely cultivated, but most often as an indoor plant or hanging basket.

Description: Medium herbaceous fern with delicate leaflets (pinnae).

Dimensions: Typically 6-12 inches high; about as broad as tall. The leaves are typically about 12-18 inches long, but they are most often pendent, or somewhat pendent.

Growth Rate: Moderate.

Range: Widespread in North America south to South Florida, where the historic distribution is unclear; West Indies, Mexico, Central America, South America and the Old World in both temperate and tropical regions.

Plant Map Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

Habitats: Moist limestone. In the Florida Panhandle and part of north-central Florida, it grows naturally on moist walls of limestone sinkholes, and on limestone along rivers and on bluffs.

Soils: Moist limestone rock, with or without an accumulation of humusy material.

Nutritional Requirements: Low; it grows on nutrient poor substrate.

Salt Water Tolerance: Low; does not tolerate flooding by salt or brackish water.

Salt Wind Tolerance: Low; salt wind may burn the leaves.

Drought Tolerance: Low; requires moist substrate and high humidity and is intolerant of long periods of drought.

Light Requirements: Light shade.

Flower Color: N/A.

Flower Characteristics: There are no flowers; the plants reproduce by spores.

Flowering Season: Probably spring-fall in most of Florida and all year in South Florida.

Fruit: Inconspicuous spores.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from spores or divisions.

Comments: In the right situations, this rock-loving fern will recruit readily in the garden.

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