Hawaiian Names with Diacritics
- ʻIwaʻiwa hāwai
- ʻIwaʻiwa kahakaha
- Iwaiwa hawai
- Iwaiwa kahakaha
- Black maidenhair
- Common maidenhair
- Maidenhair fern
- Southern maidenhair
- Venus' hair fern
Endangered Species Status
Plant Form / Growth Habit
- Non-Woody, Clumping
Mature Size, Height (in feet)
- Fern/Fern-like, Medium, 1 to 3
- Fern/Fern-like, Tall, Greater than 3
Mature Size, Width
ʻIwaʻiwa has a spread from 1 to 2 feet or more.
Long lived (Greater than 5 years)
- Ground Cover
- Hanging Basket
Additional Landscape Use Information
ʻIwaʻiwa can be used as a beautiful indoor plant in either a standard pot or a hanging basket with semi-shady to indirect sunlight locations and good moisture.
Even though this fern is found in many parts of the world, when purchasing a plant please inquire if it is the Hawaiian native ʻiwaʻiwa to help keep the gene pool local.
Source of Fragrance
- No Fragrance
Plant Produces Flowers
Additional Plant Texture Information
There are some non-native cultivars of Adiantum capillus-verneris such as 'Fimbriatum,' and 'Mairisii' with various leaf forms. 
- Light Green
- Medium Green
Additional Leaf Color Information
Additional Pest & Disease Information
Scale and mealybugs.
Occasional organic fertilizers, once or twice a month, can be used as a foliar and/or drench.
Limestone (pH 8.0) may be added to enrich the soil and increase alkalinity.
Cut off dead frond material for a clean appearance.
Additional Water Information
Soil must be well drained
- Partial sun
ʻIwaʻiwa (A. capillus-veneris) is not as easy to grow as are the naturalized species in Hawaiʻi. [Kay Lynch, Lāʻau Hawaiʻi]
Special Growing Needs
As previously mentioned, ʻiwaʻiwa has a rather high tolerance for alkaline soils. Additonal limestone should be added to acidic soils.
Requires constant moisture to thrive well.
Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)
- Less than 150, 0 to 50 (Dry)
- Less than 150, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
- Less than 150, Greater than 100 (Wet)
- 150 to 1000, 0 to 50 (Dry)
- 150 to 1000, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
- 150 to 1000, Greater than 100 (Wet)
- 1000 to 1999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
- 1000 to 1999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
- 1000 to 1999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
Additional Habitat Information
ʻIwaʻiwa is found in dry, mesic and/or wet environments from sea level to over 1400 feet in shaded areas, coastal seeps on rock emabnkments, rock faces and cliffs in the Hawaiian Islands. [Joel Lau, Botanist]
On Kauaʻi and Molokaʻi ʻiwaʻiwa can be found along the coast in sea caves.
This is an uncommon to rare fern in the Hawaiian Islands and increasingly becoming scarce. It known only from one natural location on Oʻahu. But, it is a common to rare maidenhair fern found worldwide.
In some parts of the U.S.A. such as Kentucky, it is threatened, and in North Carolina it is endangered. 
ʻIwaʻiwa (Adiantum capillus-veneris) is the only native maidenhair fern in the islands. There are, however, several other non-native species, including the more agressive Delta maidenhair (Adiantum raddianum), a naturalized species. But because the two species have different habitats, there probably not much competition between them.
Other maidenhair ferns found in Hawaiʻi are four naturalized species: Rough maidenhair (Adiantum hispidulum), Brittle maindenhair or ʻiwaʻiwa hāuli* (A. tenerum) , Delta maidenhair (A. raddianum), and an horticultural escapee, Adiantum 'Edwinii'.#
* hāuli means blackish or dark.
# The Adiantum cultivar 'Edwinii' is naturalized in Lānaʻi and West Maui. Adiantum 'Edwinii' is probably a cultivar of A. raddianum or possibly a hybrid or cultivar of A. concinnum, a native of southern Mexico to northern South America.
The generic name, adiantos, is from the Greek, unwetted, and ancient name alluding to the water-repellent fronds.
The specific name,capillus-veneris, comes from the Latin capillus, hair, and venereus, of Venus.
ʻIwaʻiwa hāwai. The word hāwai means "to purify water." 
ʻIwaʻiwa kahakaha means "striped ʻiwaʻiwa."
ʻIwaʻiwa (A. capillus-veneris) can be distinguished from other Adiantum spp. in Hawaiʻi by the fan-shaped viened fronds and pinnule (section of the frond), and by the rectangular or bar-shaped sori (spore collection) on the underside of the frond tips.
Early Hawaiian Use
The shiny dark brown to purplish black stipes (petiole or stem of the frond) were used woven in lau hala mats and purses to create design. [5,10]
Early Uses Outside of the Hawaiian Islands:
Maidenhair fern has been used to some extent by diverse cultures around the world such as Brazil, China, Egypt, England, Haiti, India, Iraq, Lesotho, Mexico, Native Americans (Navajo, Skokomish, Cherokee, Iriquois), Peru, Spain, Turkey, U.S.A., and Venezuela. [6,7,8,9]
The ancient Greeks made tea from the this fern as an expectorant for coughs. European medieval herbalists used it for treating severe respiratory such as for pleurisy, but it was not very effective since the fern is not a potent herb for this medical use. [6,7,8]
The 18th-century herbalist K'Eogh stated: "It helps cure asthma, coughs, and shortness of breath. It is good against jaundice, diarrhea, spitting of blood and the biting of mad dogs. It also provokes urination and menstruation and breaks up stone in the bladder, spleen and kidneys." [7,9]
This fern is still used and prescribed by herbalists worldwide for treating coughs, bronchitis, reducing excess mucus, chronic nasal congestion, and to ease sore throats. 
 http://wehewehe.org [Accessed on 11/10/08]
 http://www2.bishopmuseum.org/HBS/botany/cultivatedplants/?pge=2&str=adiantum&fld= [Accessed on 11/10/08]
 "Hawaiian Dictionary" by Mary K. Pukui & Samuel H. Elbert, page 104.
 http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ADCA [Accessed on 5/05/10]
 "A Hiker's Guide to Trailside Plants in Hawaiʻi" by John B. Hall, page 199.
 www.herbs2000.com [Accessed 5/05/10]
 "DK Natural Health Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine" by Andrew Chevallier, page 160.
 "Raintree Nutrition Tropical Plant Database" http://www.rain-tree.com/avenca.htm [Accessed on 5/05/10]
 "Medicine at Your Feet: Healing Plants of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Volume 1" by David Bruce Leonard, pages 11-12.
 "In Gardens of Hawaii" by Marie C. Neal, page 17.
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