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Family Polypodiaceae

Adiantum capillus-veneris Linn.
Shu tie xian jue
Scientific names 

Common names

Adiantum africanum R.Br. Alambrillo (C. Bis., Tag., Span) 
Adiantum capillus Sw. Dudder grass (Engl.)
Adiantum coriandrifolium Lam. Maidenhair (Engl.) 
Adiantum fontanum Salisb.  
Adiantum formosum R.Br.  
Adiantum michelii Christ  
Adiantum modestum Underw.  
Adiantum paradiseae Baker.  
Adiantum pseudocapillus Fée  
Adiantum remyanum Esp. Bustos  
Adiantum schaffneri E. Fourn.  
Adiantum trifidum Willd. ex Bolle  
Adiantum capillus-veneris L. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
BRAZIL: Avenca.
CHINESE: Shu tie xian jue.
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: Alambrillo, Culantrillo comun, Capilaria, Capilera, Culantrillo de pozo, Culantrillo de alambre, Dorandila.

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.

- 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 of fresh fronds of A. capillus-veneris yielded six new migrated hopane triterpenoid alcohols
, viz. pteron-14-en-7a-ol (1), fern-9(11)-en-3a-ol (2), fern-7- en-3a-ol (3), adian-5(10)-en-3a-ol (4), adian-5-en-3a-ol (5) and fern-9(11)-en-28-ol (6). (5)
- Study yielded two triterpenic compounds, Davallene 1 and Adipedatol 2, from the roots of Mexican Adiantum capillus-veneris,
- Alcoholic extract fractions of dried fronds yielded seven compounds: four triterpenoidal compounds identified as isoadiantone (1); isoadiantol-B (2); 3-methoxy4-hydroxyfilicane (3) and 3,4-dihydroxyfilicane (4) and three flavonoids identified as quercetin (5), quercetin-3-O-glucoside (6) and quercetin-3-O-rutinoside (rutin) (7).
- GC-MS analysis of whole plant yielded 15 bioactive compounds viz.
Dodecanoic acid, ethyl ester (1), Nonadecane (2), Tetradecanoic acid (3), 3,7,11,15-Tetramethyl-2-hexadecen-1-ol (4), Acetic acid (5), 3,7,11,15-tetramethyl-hexadecyl ester(6), 3,7,11,15-Tetramethyl-2-hexadecen-1-ol (6), 3,7,11,15- Tetramethyl-2-hexadecen-1-ol (7), Docosane (8), 1,2-Benzenedicarboxylic acid, butyl octyl ester (9), Phthalic acid (10), butyl octyl ester,n-Hexadecanoic acid (11), Hexadecanoic acid, ethyl ester (12), 9- Octadecenoic acid (13), Octadecanoic acid, ethyl ester (14), Di-n-octyl phthalate Tetracontane (15). (29)
- Elemental analysis of leaves by ICP-AES in mg/100gm yielded the following: Cu 01.70, Zn 07.15, Mn 13.55, Fe 17.45, Ca 11.52, Co ND, K 17.95, Na 12.65, Ni 00.20, and Mg 03.90. (30)
- Study of aerial parts for essential oil yielded 88.22% of total oil with 67 components. Main components were carvone (31.58%), carvacrol (13.75%), hexadecanoic acid (5.88%), thymol (4.05%), hexahydrofarnesul acetone (3.16%) and n-nonanal (2.99%). (see study below) (32)

Among identified phytochemicals, carvone was the main component (31.58%). Moreover, percentage of carvacrol (13.75%), Hexadecanoic acid (5.88%), Thymol (4.05%), Hexahydrofarnesyl acetone (3.16%) and n-nonanal (2.99%) were more than other identified constituents. RC50 of this volatile oil was 0.039 mg/mL.  

- Emmenagogue, expectorant, aperitive, diuretic, astringent, febrifuge, emollient.
- A
ntidandruff, 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.
- Used for kidney stones and bladder gravel.
- In Mexico, used as aperitive, diuretic, and emmenagogue.
- In China, used for the treatment of bronchitis.
- 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.

Antimicrobial: Study on the aerial part of Salsala rasmarinus and Adiantum capillus reported the presence of antimicrobial flavonoids. (1) 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. (11)
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. (14) Study showed crude flavonoids to possess potent antioxidant properties, and presents as a potential source of antioxidants for the medical and food fields. (15)
Phytochemicals / Anti-Inflammatory / Dried Fronds: Study of alcoholic extract and fractions of dried fronds yielded four triterpenoidal compounds and three flavonoids. Biologic studies of the extract and fractions showed anti-inflammatory activity. A total alcoholic extract showed significant hypoglycemic activity. (see constituents above) (19)
Activity Against Testosterone Induced Alopecia: Androgenetic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss in men. Study evaluated the hair growth promoting activity of a preparation of ACV on albino mice using a testosterone-induced alopecia model. Results showed hair growth potential for A. capillus-veneris formulation for androgenic alopecia and other androgen related disorders. (
Anti-Urolithiasic Effect: Study investigated the anti-urolithiasic effect of a hydroalcoholic extract on calcium oxalate urolithiasis in male Sprague Dawley rats. Results showed significant reduction in number of crystals, with decrease in serum levels of calcium, phosphorus and BUN. (
• Antibacterial: Study evaluated a methanolic extract of plant for antibacterial activity showed significant effects on Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Helicobacter pylori strains. (22)
• Goitrogenic and Antithyroidal: Study investigated the potency of the A. capillaris-veneris fern ethanol extract on thyroid dysfunction and hypothyroidism. Results showed decrease in thyroid weight and increase in thyroid peroxidase activity, serum T4 (p<0.01) and serum T3 (p<0.01). Study also showed significantly increase levels of antioxidant enzymes. Results suggest potential use for regulation of hypothyroidism. (23)
• Antioxidant Effect on Human Lymphocyte / Leaves: Free radicals induce damage due to lipid peroxidation in biomembranes and DNA. Antioxidants neutralize the effects of free radicals. Study showed pretreatmenyt with plant leaves extract effectivly inhibited lipid peroxidation and significantly enhanced the activities of antioxidant enzymes and glutathione content. The activity may be due to direct action in scavenging free radicals and modulation of the antioxidant defense system. (24)
• Benefit Herbal Mixture for Wound Healing: Study evaluat3ed the effect of an herbal mixture of Aloe vera, Henna, Adiantum capillus-veneris, and Commiphora molmol on wound healing in STZ-induced diabetic rats. Results showed the herbal mixture altered the gene expression signature of induced wounds as evidenced by accelerated healing in a diabetic rat model. (26)
• Antiobesity / Aerial Parts: Study of aerial parts of A. capillus-veneris and its phytoconstituents showed effects equivalent to orlistat. Results showed inhibition of PL (pancreatic lipase) in vitro with ascending order of PL-IC50 values (µg/mL): ferulic acid 0.48±0.06 <ellagic acid 13.53±1.83<chlorogenic acid 38.4±2.8<cappillus-veneris 1600±100. Study showed significant antiobesity effect (p<0.001) with marked triacylglycerol-reducing capacities (p<0.001) in comparison to rats fed with HCD (high cholesterol diet). (27)
• Antidiarrheal and Antispasmodic / Leaves: Study of crude extract of dried leaves of A. capillus-veneris showed antidiarrheal effect against castor oil-induced diarhea in a mouse model, similar to loperamide. In isolat4d rabbit jejunum, it showed concentration-dependent relaxation of spontneous and low K+-induced contractions and a weak inhibitory effect on high K. Activity was probably mediated through ATP-dependent K+ channels activation. (28)
• Antioxidant / Elemental Analysis / Leaves: Study showed A. capillus-veneris leaves are rich in free radical scavenging molecules terpenoids, flavonoids, saponins, tannins and reducing sugars. Extract showed good antioxidant activity compared to vitamin C, with low IC50 of 0.3986 mg/gm on DPPH assay and 0.695 mg/gm for ABTS assay. Elemental analysis showed K>Ca>Mg>Fe>Mn>Na>Zn>Cu>Ni. (see constituents above) (30)
• Amelioration of Bisphenol A-Induced Reproductive Toxicity: Study evaluated the ameliorative effects of A. capillus-veneris on testicular toxicity induced by bisphenol A in adule male albino rats. Results showed A. capillus-veneris overcomes the estrogenic effects of BPA on the reproductive system of rats and protects rats' testes against BPA-induced injury/damage via an antioxidative mechanism. (31)
• Antioxidant / Essential Oil of Aerial Parts: Study of aerial parts for essential oil yielded 67 components. DPPH assay showed antioxidant activity which was attributed to the high contents of carvone, carvacrol, and thymol. (see constituents above) (32)


© Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Updated September 2017 / February 2016

Photo © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
IMAGE SOURCE: Pilt:Illustration Adiantum capillus-veneris0.jpg / Original book source: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany / GFDL by Kurt Stueber / Vikipeedia
IMAGE SOURCE: Line Drawing / Adiantum capillus-veneris / Hippolyte Coste - Flore descriptive et illustrée de la France, de la Corse et des contrées limitrophes, 1901-1906 / Public Domain / alterVISTA

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
n vitro Antimicrobial Activity of Salsola rosmarinus and Adiantum capillus-veneris / Muhanned J. Mahmoud et al / Pharmaceutical Biology, Vol 27, Issue 1 March 1989 , pages 14 - 16 / DOI: 10.3109/13880208909053930 /
Antibacterial Activity of Essential Oils from the Leaves of Adiantum capillus — veneris Linn. / Victor, B., and Maridass, M., and Ramesh, U., and Prabhu, J.M.A., (2003) Malaysian Journal of Science, 22 (1). pp. 65-66. ISSN 1394-3065
Antimicrobial activity of some important Adiantum species used traditionally in indigenous systems of medicine / Meenakshi Singh et al / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2007.09.018 / Journal of Ethnopharmacology Vol 115, Issue 2, 17 January 2008, Pages 327-329
Fern Constituents: Triterpenoids from Adiantum capillus-veneris. / Nakane T et al / Chem Pharm Bull. Vol 50, No 9, pp 1273-1275
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
Antifungal Activity of the Crude Extracts and Extracted Phenols from Gametophytes and Sporophytes of Two Species of Adiantum / Piyali Guha et al / Taiwania, 50(4): 272-283, 2005
Ethnobotanical Studies of Some Important Ferns / Kamini Srivastava / Ethnobotanical Leaflets 11: 164-172. 2007.
AVENCA (Adiantum capillus-veneris) / Tropical Plant Database
Adiantum capillus-veneris Diels. / Chinese name / Catalogue of Life, China
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.
Screening for Bioactive Compounds from Adiantum capillus–veneris L. / QIANYING YUAN, JIANPING WANG AND JINLAN RUAN / J.Chem.Soc.Pak., Vol. 34, No. 1, 2012 / J.Chem.Soc.Pak., Vol. 34, No. 1, 2012
Adiantum capillus-veneris - L. / Plants For A Future
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
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
Sorting Adiantum names / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE
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.
Adiantum capillus veneris / Synonyms / The Plant List
Phytochemical and biological studies of Adiantum capillus-veneris L. / Zedan Z. Ibraheim, , Amany S. Ahmed, Yaser G. Gouda / Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal, Volume 19, Issue 2, April 2011, Pages 65–74
Effect of Adiantum Capillus veneris Linn on an Animal Model of Testosterone-Induced Hair Loss
/ Maryam Noubarani, Hossein Rostamkhani, Mohammad Erfan, Mohammad Kamalinejad, Mohammad Reza Eskandari, Mohammad Babaeian, and Jamshid Salamzadeh* / Iran J Pharm Res. 2014 Winter; 13(Suppl): 113–118.
Efficacy of Adiantum Capillus Veneris Linn in chemically induced urolithiasis in rats / Ajij Ahmed, Abdul Wadud, Nasreen Jahan, Syeda Hajera / JOURNAL OF ETHNOPHARMACOLOGY 146(1) · JANUARY 2013 / DOI: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.01.011
Study of antibacterial properties of Adiantum capillus-veneris extract on eight species of gram positive and negative bacteria / M H Shirazi, Gh Amin, B Akhondi Lavasani, Saeed Seyyed Eshraghi / Journal of Medicinal Plants, December 2011
Evaluation of goitrogenic and antithyroidal effect of the fern / Adiantum capillus-veneris A. Vijayalakshmi,*, Y. Kiran Kumar / Rev Bras Farmacogn, 23(2013): 802-810
Antimicrobial Activity and Spectral Chemical Analysis of Methanolic Leaves Extract of Adiantum Capillus-Veneris Using GC-MS and FT- IR Spectroscopy / Haider Mashkoor Hussein, Imad Hadi Hameed*, Omar Ali Ibraheem / International Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemical Research 2016; 8(3); 369-385
Effect of the herbal mixture composed of Aloe VeraHennaAdiantum capillus-veneris, and Myrrha on wound healing in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats / Hamid Galehdari, Samira NegahdariMahnaz  KesmatiAnahita Rezaie and Gholamreza Shariati / BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2016, 16:386 / https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-016-1359-7
Antiobesity and antihyperglycaemic effects of Adiantum capillus-veneris extracts: in vitro and in vivoevaluations / Violet Kasabri, Entisar K Al-Hallaq, Yasser K Bustanji, Khalid K Abdul-Razzak, Ismail F Abaza, and Fatma U Afifi / Pharmaceutical Biology, Vol 55, Issue 1 (2017) / http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13880209.2016.1233567
Antidiarrheal and antispasmodic activities of Adiantum capillus-veneris are predominantly mediated through ATP-dependent K+ channels activation / Khalid Hussain Janbaz, Waseem Hassan, Malik Hassan Mehmood, Anwar Hassan Gilani / Bangladesh Journal of Pharmacology, Vol 10, No 1 (2015)
GC-MS analysis of phytocomponents on whole plant extract Adiantum capillus-veneris L. - A potential folklore medicinal plant / Manisha V Kale / RJLBPCS 2(1);July-August 2015
Evaluation of phytochemicals, antioxidant activity and elemental content of Adiantum capillus veneris leaves / N. S. Rajurkar and Kunda Gaikwad / J. Chem. Pharm. Res., 2012, 4(1):365-374
Bisphenol A exposure and healing effects of Adiantum capillus-veneris L. plant extract (APE) in bisphenol A-induced reproductive toxicity in albino rats / Yousaf, Balal; Amina; Liu, Guijian; Wang, Ruwei; Qadir, Abdul; et al. / Environmental Science and Pollution Research International; Heidelberg23.12; Jun 2016
Essential Oil of Arial Parts of Adiantum capillus-veneris: Chemical Composition and Antioxidant Activity. / Khodaie, Laleh and Esnaashari, Solmaz and Bamdad Moghaddam, Seddigheh (2015)  / Jundishapur Journal of Natural Pharmaceutical Products, 10 (4).

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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