Adiantum sp. in Black Hill, Morialta and Horsnell Gully Conservation Parks


Adiantum sp.
maiden-hair ferns

When some people think of maiden-hair ferns, they think of sensitive house plants, but we have two species on the plant lists which grow in Black Hill, and Morialta Conservation Parks, and one on the Horsnell Gully plant list. These ferns are found in damper places in the Parks, and die back in summer, to sprout again from their underground rhizomes when wetter weather comes.

The name Adiantum is derived from a Greek word adiantos, meaning dry, which is a reference to the water repellant properties of the leaves. It is said that if the frond is dipped in water, it remains dry.

Adiantum aethiopicum the common maiden-hair, can be distinguished from the other species as the spores on the backs of the leaves, which are the fruiting parts, occur in the notches of the leaves. The name, aethiopicum, is an old name for South Africa, and indicates this species is also found in South Africa.

Adiantum aethiopicum
Adiantum aethiopicum
Horsnell Gully, 24 December 2008
Adiantum aethiopicum
See how the spores are formed in a horse-shoe
shape on the backs of the leaves.
Adiantum aethiopicum
A closer view showing the arrangement of the
spore around the notches in the leaves.

Adiantum capillus-veneris, dainty maiden-hair fern, can be distinguished from the other species as the spores on the backs of the leaves, occur on the edges of the leaves. The name capillus-veneris means hairy Venus.

This species is recognised as Vulnerable in South Australia.

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Revised 3 May 2020; minor formatting changes

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