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Adiantum, the maidenhair ferns, is a genus of about 200 species of ferns in the Vittarioideae subfamily of the family Pteridaceae, though some researchers place it in its own family, Adiantaceae. The genus name comes from Greek, meaning "not wetting", referring to the fronds' ability to shed water without becoming wet.
They are distinctive in appearance, with dark, often black stipes and rachises, and bright green, often delicately cut leaf tissue. The sori are borne submarginally, and are covered by reflexed flaps of leaf tissue which resemble indusia. Dimorphism between sterile and fertile fronds is generally subtle.
They generally prefer humus-rich, moist, well-drained sites, ranging from bottomland soils to vertical rock walls. Many species are especially known for growing on rock walls around waterfalls and water seepage areas.
The highest species diversity is in the Andes. Fairly high diversity also occurs in eastern Asia, with nearly 40 species in China.
February 11th, 2014
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