Walking around the redwood forest, it’s almost impossible not to come across ferns. We have several species growing around our home and today’s post is about the native western maidenhair fern, sometimes called the five-fingered fern, botanical name Adiantum aleuticum.
These delicate-looking ferns are found mostly in western North America from Alaska down to Mexico. (It’s more common along the coast but can be found in the Rockies and as far away as Maine, Quebec, and Newfoundland.) They prefer to grow in shady, moist, humid forests, along streams and often thrive in the spray of waterfalls.
The western maidenhair is a deciduous fern, shedding its leaves in the winter. Like all proper ferns, the western maidenhair reproduces with spores rather than seeds. The spores develop on the underside of the leaves, ripening and releasing in the summer and fall. New growth emerges, bright green, in the early spring and leaves darken by the fall.
The leaves, or fronds, extend from dark brown or black stalks. They grow wide rather than tall, with fronds reaching one to three feet in length.