Five-Finger Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum aleuticum)

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Five-Finger Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum aleuticum)

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Five-finger Maidenhair (Adiantum pedatum/aleuticum) This name may be a bit confusing to many and throw others into quick pants they equate this with some elusive treasure from old-time catalogs but this is the new classification for our western US maidenhair, formerly known as A. pedatum and then A. pedatum subsp. aleuticum. The other two western subspecies are now considered as ecotypes; subsp. calderi is the serpentine ecotype, and subsp. subpumilum is the dwarf ecotype. For those interested in Cathy Paris' formal description it can be found in "Rhodora", The Journal of the New England Botanical pub Vol. 93, No. 874, April 1991. If in fact you have an easily growable maidenhair the chances are high that it may be our versatile and unfussy western native. The blade on western maidenhair is more stiffly arching than the eastern pedatum. Instead of resembling the much touted full fan-like form of that species the western maidenhair has a blade in which the main rachis sticks out longer than the adjacent pinna like the middle finger of a hand. Hence the colloquial common name of five-finger fern is most descriptive. Our western plant is not only variable in the wild but it is also variable from spore and there are minor pinnule changes as well as differences in spacing between the pinnules.

Frond Condition:  Deciduous
Mature Height:  12-24" (1-2')
Origin:  Western North America
Cultural Requirements: Some Shade, Partly Shaded, Full Shade, Evenly Moist, Slightly Moist
USDA Zones:  5,6,7,8

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