What fern are you?

As part of Science Live: Secret World of Ferns, we want to find out what type of fern you are! If one of the statements below sounds like you, click on it to reveal your secret fern personality…

Are you easily embarrassed?

Rasp fern, Doodia australis. Photographer: Leon Perrie © Te Papa

Rasp fern, Doodia australis. Photographer: Leon Perrie © Leon Perrie

Sounds like you’re: rasp fern (Doodia australis).The new fronds of rasp fern are often coloured red.

So are the fronds of many of its Doodia and Blechnum relatives. This is possibly a defence mechanism, perhaps against predation or sun exposure. The red colour fades as the frond matures.

Do you like to travel and explore new places?

Bracken, Pteridium esculentum. Photographer: Leon Perrie © Te Papa

Bracken, Pteridium esculentum. Photographer: Leon Perrie © Leon Perrie

Sounds like you’re: bracken (Pteridium esculentum).

Bracken ferns occur worldwide. The species in New Zealand also occurs in Australia, through the Pacific Islands, and South America.

They get around via their spores but also have underground stems that spread vigorously. These were harvested by Māori as a food source, with burning used to encourage the bracken to grow (like the related pig fern, bracken fern colonises disturbed areas).

Do you feel everyone knows your name, but no one really knows you?

Silver fern, Cyathea dealbata. Photographer: Leon Perrie © Te Papa

Silver fern, Cyathea dealbata. Photographer: Leon Perrie © Leon Perrie

Sounds like you’re: silver fern (Cyathea dealbata).

An emblem for this nation, yet many New Zealanders don’t know what a real silver fern looks like.

What is the silver fern?

Are you a daydreamer, with your head in the clouds?

Mamaku, Cyathea medullaris. Photographer: Leon Perrie © Te Papa

Mamaku, Cyathea medullaris. Photographer: Leon Perrie © Leon Perrie

Sounds like you’re: mamaku (Cyathea medullaris).

New Zealand’s tallest tree fern, and one of the tallest in the world.

Online guide to New Zealand tree ferns

Do you like it hot and steamy?

Nephrolepsis flexuosa. Photographer: Leon Perrie © Te Papa

Nephrolepis flexuosa. Photographer: Leon Perrie © Leon Perrie

Sounds like you’re: Nephrolepis flexuosa.

In mainland New Zealand, this fern is found only around geothermal areas of the central North Island.  Also seems to be present in the Pacific Islands.

A similar-looking exotic relative, tuber ladder fern (Nephrolepis cordifolia), is often cultivated in New Zealand and has become weedy in places.

Would you rather be living across the ditch?

Sticherus tener. Photographer: Leon Perrie © Te Papa

Sticherus tener. Photographer: Leon Perrie © Te Papa

Sounds like you’re: Sticherus tener.

Sticherus tener is abundant in south-eastern Australia, but only a few populations occur in New Zealand. One of these is within the mine site at Denniston.

Sticherus tener at Denniston.

Find ferns and win

Become a citizen scientist and find ferns near you! As part of Science Live: Secret world of ferns, we want you to tell us what ferns live near you. Each image of a different New Zealand fern gets you in the draw to win a prize.

Enter the competition

Check out our guides to common New Zealand ferns and New Zealand’s tree ferns. These will help you find more ferns for entering our prize draw!

Tune into Science Live: Secret World of Ferns

Science Live: Secret World of Ferns

On Friday 16 May, 2.00pm, you can discover what makes these Kiwi emblems special, and how you can help make scientific discoveries. I’ll be answering your questions during the Science Live broadcast.  You can ask a question:

Get your questions in quick to make sure they get answered during the show!

3 Responses

  1. Leon Perrie

    Hi Paul,
    I think we’ve just the fern for you: the whekï tree fern http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/Topic/3594

    Reply
    • Paul Gardner

      A Dicksonia. How lovely (& one of my favourites). Thanks!

  2. Paul Gardner

    Do you have a really shabby and forgetful fern? I’ll probably be that one.

    Reply

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