Information on Maidenhair Fern

Common Name: Maidenhair Fern
Scientific Name: Adiantum capillus-veneris
Irish Name: Dúchosach
Family Group: Adiantaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Maidenhair Fern is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.


Quite an uncommon fern in Ireland, this plant is mainly confined to the western half of the country and in particular the Burren and the Aran Islands. It is extremely attractive with delicate light-green, fan-shaped, leaf-segments. These leaf-segments are arranged in clusters, on slender, shiny, black stalks, and the sori (or clusters of spores) are found close to the reflexed leaf-margins on the back of the leaves, from June to September. An evergreen plant, it can reach 30 cm high, growing in grykes or fissures in the limestone pavements of the Burren, the Aran islands and in the north-west. A native plant, it belongs to the Adiantaceae family.

My first record of this plant is from the Burren, Co Clare in 1980 and I photographed it there in 2005 and again in 2014.  

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Fern, Maidenhair
Fern, Maidenhair

My real first sighting of this plant was growing in a plant-pot in the conservatory of a Co Wicklow relative in the 1950's.  It is a very common house-plant and likes the humidity of bathrooms in particular.   

On this website I have included some ferns (Pteridophytes) which can be found growing in Ireland, because, although they are not flowers, I know that persons interested in wildflowers usually find other forms of plant life quite absorbing.  Ferns do not produce flowers and fruits but are spore-producing plants which possess vascular systems and produce roots.