Asplenium Viride vs Maidenhair Fern: Key Differences Explained

Disclosure: As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

Please note that while we always strive to provide 100% up to date and accurate information, there is always the small possibility of error. Therefore, we advise conducting further research and due diligence before consuming any plants or exposing pets to anything mentioned on this site. Kindly refer to the full disclaimer for more details here.

Asplenium viride, also known as the green spleenwort, and the maidenhair fern are two distinctive species of ferns that thrive in different environments and exhibit unique characteristics. While both make lovely additions to any garden or outdoor space, understanding the differences between them can help you make an informed choice when deciding which fern is best suited to your needs.

The green spleenwort is a small rock fern that grows on calcareous rocks throughout northern and western North America, northern Europe, and Asia. Its fronds are typically 10-25 cm in length and are parallel-sided at their lower part. The plant’s most distinguishing feature is its green rachis, which sets it apart from the more common maidenhair spleenwort, which has a red-brown to almost black rachis.

On the other hand, the maidenhair fern, or Asplenium trichomanes, prefers growth on basic rocks in upland areas. It sports a noticeably toothed pinnae and is generally smaller than the green spleenwort, with fronds measuring between 5-15 cm long and up to 1.4 cm wide. Both species showcase delicate, yet captivating appearances, making them ideal choices for those looking to add a touch of natural beauty to their surroundings.

Asplenium Viride Overview

Habitat and Distribution

Asplenium Viride
Selected focus, Asplenium viride is a species of fern known as the green spleenwort because of its green stipes and rachides.

Asplenium viride, also known as green spleenwort, is a native fern species found in northern and western parts of North America, as well as northern Europe and Asia. It thrives on calcareous rocks, meaning limestone or other rock types that possess high levels of calcium carbonate. This fern is also known to colonize sites with high concentrations of heavy metals, sometimes leading to changes in frond morphology.

Growth and Care

Green spleenwort grows best in a cool environment with shade from strong sunlight. A moist atmosphere is crucial for its growth, so dampen floors and benches around the plant to preserve humidity. It is essential to provide a well-draining compost consisting of equal parts loam, peat, and leaf mold, combined with a generous amount of sand.

However, it’s worth noting that the green spleenwort is a rare species that is found on calcareous and serpentine rocks in certain areas like Maine and Vermont. One fascinating aspect of the green spleenwort’s appearance is its signature green rachis, which differentiates it from the closely-related maidenhair spleenwort.

Uses and Benefits

As an attractive, small rock fern, Asplenium viride can be used as a decorative addition to rock gardens or for planting within crevices in walls or between rocks. It is not just visually appealing, but its ability to grow on alkaline substrates in environments that are often inhospitable to other plant species exhibits its resilience and adaptability.

In summary, Asplenium viride is a unique and appealing rock-loving green fern that thrives in specific habitats and requires particular care. Its charming appearance and adaptability make it a favorable choice for gardeners seeking to diversify their plant collection or add visual interest to specific areas. Moving forward, make sure to provide adequate moisture, shade, and a well-draining compost to ensure the optimal growth and health of your green spleenwort.

Maidenhair Fern Overview

Habitat and Distribution

Adiantum capillus venerisvenus hair fern house plant in plastic pot.

Maidenhair ferns are captivating plants that can be found in various environments such as woodlands, wetlands, and even rocky crevices. They are widespread throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. The Fern species called Asplenium viride, also known as the Green spleenwort, grows specifically on calcareous cliffs and crevices, making it a unique member of the maidenhair fern family.

Growth and Care

These delicate ferns are generally easy to grow and care for. When growing as indoor plants, they thrive in well-draining soil and bright, indirect light. Providing ample humidity, consistent watering, and avoiding extreme temperature fluctuations will promote healthy growth. To maintain the vibrant green foliage, it is recommended to fertilize with a balanced liquid fertilizer every four to six weeks during the growing season.

Uses and Benefits

Maidenhair ferns offer a variety of uses and benefits, both aesthetically and ecologically. In addition to being a visually appealing addition to indoor spaces and shaded gardens, they also serve as:

  • Air purifiers: These ferns absorb air pollutants and release clean oxygen into the environment, making them an excellent choice for indoor air quality improvement.
  • Erosion control: The root systems of maidenhair ferns play a role in stabilizing soil on slopes and near bodies of water, helping to prevent soil erosion and protecting the surrounding ecosystem.
  • Wildlife habitats: Ferns are not only a source of food for various insects and herbivores but also provide shelter and breeding grounds for numerous wildlife species.

The difference between Asplenium viride and other more common maidenhair ferns like Asplenium trichomanes lies in their size, color, and habitat preferences. Asplenium viride is generally smaller, greener, and prefers calcium-rich cliffs and crevices. Therefore, when choosing the right fern for your space, consider not only the unique characteristics of each species but also their ideal growing conditions.

Comparison of Asplenium Viride and Maidenhair Fern


Asplenium Viride, also known as the green spleenwort, has fronds that are particularly unique in their appearance. Each frond is divided into numerous small, round-to-oval pinnae or leaflets. Conversely, the Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum) exhibits delicate, fan-shaped fronds that fan out, often arranged in distinctive patterns. Each frond has several segments, each carrying numerous small, triangular leaflets.

Growth Requirements

For both Asplenium Viride and Maidenhair Fern, they thrive best in moist, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH. However, while Asplenium Viride prefers growing on alkaline rocks, such as limestone cliffs and dolomite boulders, Maidenhair Fern adapts well to various soil types, making it a more versatile choice for home gardeners. Furthermore, Asplenium Viride makes an excellent houseplant in USDA zones 11 and 12, whereas Maidenhair is better suited for temperate North America, Central America, Europe, and Asia.

Cultivation and Maintenance

When cultivating Asplenium Viride or Maidenhair Fern, keep in mind some key differences in their requirements:

  • Light: Both ferns enjoy partial to full shade. However, Asplenium Viride may tolerate slightly brighter light conditions without scorching, while Maidenhair Fern must avoid direct sunlight.
  • Temperature: The Asplenium Viride can withstand a more extensive temperature range, making it an attractive houseplant in various climates. On the other hand, Maidenhair Fern prefers cooler, temperate environments.
  • Humidity: High humidity levels are ideal for both ferns, as they are native to damp, shady habitats. Regular misting and a pebble tray filled with water can help maintain necessary humidity for indoor cultivation.
  • Fertilization: Monthly feeding using a diluted, water-soluble fertilizer is beneficial for both Asplenium Viride and Maidenhair Fern during the growing season. However, Maidenhair Fern may require less frequent fertilization during the winter months.

In conclusion, while similarities persist between Asplenium Viride and Maidenhair Fern, such as their love for damp, shady environments and moist soils, key differences in appearance, growth requirements, and cultivation techniques can help a gardener choose the most suitable fern for their needs.

Common Problems and Solutions

Pests and Diseases

Maidenhair ferns can sometimes suffer from pest issues such as scale insects. These pests can be treated using horticultural oil or insecticidal soaps. Meanwhile, Asplenium viride ferns typically have fewer pest problems.

Both types of ferns can be susceptible to fungal diseases, especially when their environmental conditions are not optimal. To help prevent fungal infections, ensure proper air circulation and avoid overwatering.

Environmental Issues

Maidenhair Ferns

Maidenhair ferns often face challenges related to humidity and sunlight. Low humidity can cause leaves to curl as the plant tries to retain moisture. To resolve this issue, increase humidity by misting the plant or placing it near a humidifier.

Additionally, maidenhair ferns require indirect sunlight to prevent shriveling. Ensure your fern is getting sufficient light by placing it in a well-lit area, but avoid direct sunlight, which can damage the delicate leaves.

Asplenium Viride

Asplenium viride, also known as maidenhair spleenwort, prefers moist, well-drained soil and a humid climate. It typically grows in shady rock crevices, so indirect light is ideal for this fern as well.

To maintain optimal environmental conditions for your Asplenium viride, keep the soil consistently moist, but avoid overwatering to prevent root rot. Provide adequate humidity and ensure proper air circulation by not overcrowding the plant among other plants.

By addressing these common pests, diseases, and environmental issues, you can help your maidenhair fern and Asplenium viride fern thrive in your indoor or outdoor garden.


Asplenium viride and maidenhair fern are two distinct fern species, each with unique characteristics and habitats. Asplenium viride, also known as green spleenwort, is a small rock fern native to northern and western North America, northern Europe, and Asia. It grows on calcareous rock and is known for its ability to colonize sites with high concentrations of heavy metals, sometimes forming new substrate-dependent ecotypes with morphological and genetic differences.

Maidenhair fern, on the other hand, represents the major homosporangium ferns and serves as a model species for studies on fern biology and the origin of euphyllophytes and seed plants. This fern typically thrives in slightly acidic, moist soil and is often grown as an attractive houseplant in various climates.

Both Asplenium viride and maidenhair fern display unique adaptations to their respective environments. Green spleenwort’s ability to withstand high concentrations of heavy metals showcases its resilience, while the maidenhair fern’s adaptability as a houseplant illustrates its aesthetic appeal and versatility. These ferns hold significant value for researchers and plant enthusiasts alike, offering opportunities for better understanding plant biology, adaptation mechanisms, and potential applications for cultivation and conservation efforts.

In summary, Asplenium viride and maidenhair fern are two fascinating fern species with distinct characteristics and ecological niches. Their unique adaptations and importance for scientific research make them valuable organisms to study and appreciate.

Helpful Video