Science Live: Is it a fern?

Science Live: Is it a fern?

Te Papa’s next Science Live event on Friday 16 May is all about the secret world of ferns, so it seems only right to ask – what is a fern?

We want you to tell us (before we tell you). After all, everyone knows more or less what a fern is – right?! For New Zealanders, ferns are emblematic.

Tune into Science Live: Secret World of Ferns on 16 May.

Have a look at each of the images below. Which ones do you think are ferns?

And, once you’re done, check out our ‘Find ferns and win’ competition.

[WpProQuiz 2]


  1. Loved the quiz, only one stumped me.

    1. Author

      Thanks Rosemary.

  2. Tepapa fern website tests your knowledge on ferns and it is really helpful.
    The test was fun and intresting but really hard. I got 4 wrong. I love it and I hope there are more tests to come! My grandfather Patrick Brownsey is a fern expert and is awesome at it!!

    1. Author

      Hi Jimmy. I think you did very well only getting 4 wrong. That’s a good idea about making more tests – I will have a think about it. I’m pleased your grandfather was so good at the test! Leon

  3. We have Azolla growing in our outdoor goldfish pond. We didn’t know until my grandfather, Patrick Brownsey told us what it was called. I learnt that a fern doesn’t have flowers.

    1. Author

      Hi Amy. Thank you for your comment. Azolla is a funny-looking fern, isn’t it? You’re lucky to have it in your goldfish pond. I have some at home too, but only in an old icecream container – a pond would be much better! Leon

  4. What a wonderful collection of so many beautiful ferns I have always loved them and
    though living here by the sea at Waikanae I have some in my glass house! I will send you my photo taken near Taupo of a view of a tree fern rarely seen by someone on the ground,
    Many thanks and warm regards
    Beverley Shore Bennett

  5. That was fun, and I’m relieved that I got them all, although there was a moment of doubt around the azolla. Haven’t seen a Schizea for years – not since I was poking around Auckland areas a lot. I hope you are going to cover introduced pest ferns. I’m starting to get the exotic Blechnum turning up in my restoration project, and have just killed a large plant that my neighbours thought was a lovely native addition to their garden.

    1. Author

      Thanks Paula.
      I’d like to know more about the exotic Blechnum you mention. Perhaps you could enter it in our ‘Find ferns and win’ competition:
      Details on how to enter at the link, but it involves emailing us a photo or uploading it to the citizen science site NatureWatch NZ.

  6. I got the Anisotome question wrong. But overall I was happy with my result.

    Great quiz.

    1. Author

      Thanks Fern Person. And, well done with your results.

  7. I got number 9 wrong, can i have the name of it again, so I can look it up, it was very unusual looking for a fern. Ive never been very good at ferns, at least I was able to tell you what some of the plants were, but not all of them.

    1. Author

      Hi Julia. Thanks for giving the quiz a go. Number 9 is “hounds tongue” fern; personally, I think the resemblance is not strong. The scientific name is Microsorum pustulatum. It is widespread in New Zealand.

  8. i will like a Bibliography on Able Tasman

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