Family • Polypodiaceae - Adiantum capillus-veneris Linn. - MAIDENHAIR

Scientific names

Adiantum capillus-veneris Linn.
Adiantum philippense
Adiantum michelii
Adiantum capillaris-veneris var. modestum (Underw.)
Veneris capillus
Shu tie xian jue (Chin.)

Common names

Alambrillo (C. Bis., Tag., Span)
Culantrillo de alambre (Span., Tag.)
Dudder grass (Engl.)
Maidenhair (Engl.)

Other vernacular names

BRAZIL: Avenca.
DANISH: Venushar.
DUTCH: Europees venushaar..
FINNISH: Venuksenhiussaniainen..
FRENCH: Capillaire cheveux-de-Vénus, Capillaire de Montpellier, Cheveux de Vénus.
GERMAN: Uenhaar, Frauenhaarfarn, Venushaarfarn.
ITALIAN: Capelvenere comune.
SPANISH: Dorandila, Culantrillo comun, Capilaria, Capilera, Culantrillo de pozo, Culantrillo de alambre.


Alambrillo is a slow-growing evergreen fern with a short, ascending, and scaly rhizome with spirally arranged, stipitate and compound leaves. Stipes are suberect and rather slender, 10 to 20 centimeters long, polished and dark green. Fronds are bipinnate, with a short terminal pinna and numerous erect lateral ones on each side; the segments (pinnae) are 1 to 2.5 centimeters broad, the base being cuneate and the outer edge rounded. Sori are roundish, situated in the roundish sinuses of the crenations.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings


(2) Antimicrobial activity of some important Adiantum species used traditionally in indigenous systems of medicine / Singh Meenakshi et al / Journal of ethnopharmacology • 2008, vol. 115, no2, pp. 327-32

(3) Ethnobotanical Studies of Some Important Ferns / Kamini Srivastava / Ethnobotanical Leaflets 11: 164-172. 2007.

(4) Anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive activities of ethanolic extract and its various fractions from Adiantum capillus veneris Linn. / Haider S, Nazreen S, Alam MM, Gupta A, Hamid H, Alam MS. / J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Dec 8;138(3):741-7. Epub 2011 Oct 15.

(5) Adiantum capillus-veneris – L. / Plants For A Future

(6) Evaluation of phytochemicals, antioxidant activity and elemental content of Adiantum capillus veneris leaves / N. S. Rajurkar* and Kunda Gaikwad / Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research, 2012, 4(1):365-374

(7) In vitro and in vivo studies of antioxidant activities of flavonoids from Adiantum capillus-veneris L. / Ming-Zhu Jiang, Hui Yan1, Yan Wen and Xiang-Mei Li / African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology Vol. 5(18), pp. 2079-2085, 15 November, 2011

(8) Sorting Adiantum names / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE

(9) Ethnomedicinal uses of Pteridophytes of Kumaun Himalaya, Uttarakhand, India / Kanchan Upreti, Jeewan S Jalal, Lalit M Tewari et al / Journal of American Science 2009; 5(4): 167-170.

– In the Philippines, found in Batan Island and Nueva Viscaya, Bontoc, Benguet, and Laguna Provinces in Luzon.
– in shady, moist places.
– Usually, flower-pot cultivation for ornamental purposes.

– Phytochemical studies have shown triterpenes, flavonoids, phenylpropanoids and carotenoids.
– Study isolated two new migrated hopane triterpenoids, the first example of oleanane compounds from Adiatrum ferns.
– Study yielded two triterpenic compounds, Davallene 1 and Adipedatol 2, from the roots of Mexican Adiantum capillus-veneris.

– Emmenagogue, expectorant, aperitive, diuretic, astringent, febrifuge, emollient.
– Antidandruff, antitussive, demulcent, depurative, emetic, galactagogue, laxative, stimulant and tonic.

Parts used 
Leaves, rhizomes.


Culinary / Edibility
– Leaves used for tea. Dried frons used for making tea.
– Syrup made from plant makes a cooling summer drink.
– Fronds used as garnish for sweet dishes.

– In the Philippines fronds are used in the treatment of chest diseases.
– Decoction of leaves (fronds) as tea for chest afflictions, colds, coughs, snoring.
– Promotes appetite and digestive aid. Also, gently laxative.
– Fronds used for cough and cold, also chewed for treatment of mouth blister.
– Frond extract mixed with honey used as an eye ointment.
– Decoction of rhizomes as tea for cough, respiratory problems, fevers, and abdominal colic.
– Externally, for a variety of skin diseases and inflammatory conditions.
– It is used as a postpartum tonic, in doses of two tablespoons every two hours.
– Plant decoction used to regulate menstrual cycle disturbances.
– In Iraq and Iran rhizomes are used as expectorant, and used for difficulty in breathing and to relieve spasms in whooping cough.
– In Mexico, used as aperitive, diuretic, and emmenagogue.
– Used as a lotion for falling hair and baldness.
– In Peruvian Amazon, fronds as infusion or syrup used as diuretic, expectorant and emmenagogue.
– In the Peruvian Andes, shamans and healers use a decoction of rhizome for alopecia, gallstones, and jaundice.
– In the Brazilian Amazon, used as expectorant for bronchitis and coughs. In present day Brazilian herbal medicine, frond and leaf are used for hair loss, coughs, laryngitis, sore throat; to improve appetite and digestion, stimulate renal function, regulate menstruation, and facilitate childbirth.
– In Pakistan, the plant is used for diabetes.
– In India, fresh or dried leafy fronds are used as antidandruff, antitussive, demulcent, depurative, emetic, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, galactagogue, laxative, stimulant and tonic. Tea or syrup used for cough, throat affliction, and bronchitis. Also, as detoxicant in alcoholism and to expel worms. Externally, used as poultice for snake bites and bee stings.
– In Ayurveda, Adiantum spp. used for colds, tumors of the liver and spleen skin diseases, bronchitis and inflammatory diseases.

Study Findings
• Antimicrobial: Study on the aerial part of Salsala rasmarinus and Adiantum capillus reported the presence of antimicrobial flavonoids. In a study of Adiantum species, A capillus-veneris was next to
A venustum in degree of activity as antimicrobial agent. ACV had very low MIV value against E coli.
• Antibacterial Activity of Essential Oils : A lemon yellow colored essential oil was extracted from the leaves of AC which exhibited maximum inhibitory activity against S typhi; mild antibacterial activity against Pseudomonas species, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Streptococcus pyogenes.
• Antidiabetic / Metal Content: Study focused on the hypoglycemic effects and metal contents of plants. Iron and chromium were found in all anti-diabetic herbs, including A capillus. Water soluble lead was high in A. capillus. The water extracts of plants were found to be better hypoglycemics than the acid digested part with its higher metal content. Study concluded that the metal content did not have any particular relation to the antidiabetic effect of the herbs.
• Antimicrobial / Phenolic Content: Study of methanolic extracts of Adiantum spp. showed Adiantum capillus-veneris activity against E. coli, activity probably due to its high phenolic content.
• Anti-Fungal: The water extracts and extracted phenols from gametophytes and sporophytes of two ferns – A capillus-veneris and Adiantum lunulatum were tested for antifungal activities against Aspergillus niger and Rhizopus stolonifer. Activity was found higher in the gametophytes and ACV was found a better antifungal than AL.
• Anti-Inflammatory / Antinociceptive: Study investigated the anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive activities of a crude ethanolic extract and various fractions of Adiantum capillus-veneris in a carrageenan-induced hind paw edema model. Results showed significant analgesic activity comparable to ibuprofen. An anti-inflammatory effect appeared to be due to inhibition of NO release and decrease of TNF-a level.
• Antimicrobial / Functional Compounds: An EtOAc fraction exhibited broad spectrum antimicrobial activities against all tested microorganisms, especially Candida albicans. Phytochemical study showed the fraction to yield the highest total flavones, total phenolic contents, and characterized various compounds. Observed bioactivities were attributed partly to phenolic acids and flavonoids, especially 3-p-coumaroylquinic acid and kaempferol 3-O-glucoside.
• Antioxidant / Phytochemicals: Study yielded phenolics and terpenoids (2.73%). fats and waxes (0.20%), alkaloids (0.53%). quaternary and N-oxides (26.33%). and fiber (67.23%). Of ten elements, Ca and K were found at major levels. Results showed the leaves to possess free radical scavenging molecules, with potential use as source of natural antioxidants and nutrients.
• Antioxidant / Phytochemicals: Study showed crude flavonoids to possess potent antioxidant properties, and presents as a potential source of antioxidants for the medical and food fields.