True maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris)

True maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris)

Other common names: Venus hair, Southern maidenhair, five- finger fern, black maidenhair fern, rock fern.

*Not to be confused with the maidenhair tree, or common maidenhair (Asplenium trichomanes)

The following information may not be re-posted, copied or published without my permission and appropriate credit given. Please contact me via email (listed on the About page) if you wish to re-publish any of the information on my blog.

Family: Pteridaceae

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Anti-inflammatory, demulcent, astringent, antitussive, soothing expectorant, decongestant, emmenagogue, antispasmodic, antipruritic, anticatarrhal.


*Note: This fern is scarce in some areas (such as North Carolina, and Kentucky); check to make sure it is not on the endangered list in your area before harvesting.

Part used: Whole herb, dried


Tannins, mucilages, triterpenoids, flavonoids and others.


Bronchitis, coughs, asthma, kidney complaints, chest congestion, insect bites, menstrual cramps, promoting menstrual flow.

Medicinal preparations:

Diagram courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Diagram courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


An infusion is the most common internal use of this fern, but it also makes a great addition to cough syrups.


A topical poultice or salve made with this fern has been used historically by First Nations people to alleviate discomfort from insect bites and stings.


Do not use if pregnant or nursing. In large amounts it may cause vomiting. Do not administer to children or those taking medications without the advice of a physician.

I suggest consulting a pharmacist or physician before starting any herbal supplement if you are taking a prescription medication or have serious underlying health concerns.

Energetic/traditional use:

Photo courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/Ettore Balocchi

Photo courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/Ettore Balocchi

A favourite among First Nations tribes, this fern has been made into a topical salve for skin irritations, and an internal remedy for rheumatism and psychosis (not that the two are related!) For centuries it has been considered a superior remedy for chest congestion. Its Latin and common names come from an old story about Venus emerging from the water with dry hair, (Adiantum means water-repellent).

Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended as general education on herbs and is not intended to take the place of medical care. Please consult a health care professional before embarking on any health regime.


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