Can You ID These Plants by Their Leaves?

SCIENCE

Dustyn Deerman

7 Min Quiz

Image: RK Studio/Kevin Lanthier / Photodisc / Getty Images

About This Quiz

If you're out and about, and you come across a plant, are you able to name it? What about naming it based solely on its leaves? If you're a plant owner at home, do you know what to call those lovely members of your indoor jungle? There are a number of ways you can identify a plant, but its leaves should be one of your best clues!

Yet, in today's world, are we still in touch with the beautiful creations mother nature has given us? Do we even notice the plants around us, or are they just in the background? You may not spend too much time thinking about plants and their names (or nicknames), but we're willing to bet you could name at least some of the plants in this quiz, based on their leaves alone! Simply pay attention to their colors, their shapes, variegation and size. Some should be pretty obvious.

So, do you think you have what it takes to ace our quiz? Surely you can recognize Apple products based on their fruit logo or Nike by their swoosh — now let's see what you can name straight from mother nature's [un]official marketing team. Don't let the only time you pay attention to a plant's leaves be when you're raking them up this fall and winter!

What plant's leaves are known for closing and opening, based on how much sun it's receiving?

The prayer plant got its name specifically because of its physical response to the sun — the leaves fold at night. This is a definite indicator of how sensitive this plant really is; it needs bright light to stay happy. Still, this beauty is an easy one to add to your indoor jungle at home.

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Which plant's name comes from the small, unruly "plantlets" it sprouts as it matures?

Spider plants can sprout a number of these "plantlets" with leafy legs, creating quite the visual if you do not snip the little ones and just let them mature. Those small spider-like clumps will grow into small plants and be perfectly fine living attached to the stem they sprouted from.

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If you're out in nature, which of these plants will you likely smell before you get to actually check out its leaves?

This plant is unique in every way. Visually it is distinguishable next to any other plant, but even more than that, your nose will tell you it's nearby. Those who have gotten close enough describe the smell as rotting flesh. This is a tactic to attract insects, though; they land on the plant thinking there is food, but they are actually helping to pollinate it.

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Which plant's leaves take less than a second to react to being touched or landed on?

That's right, the area where a Venus flytrap captures its prey is considered a leaf. These leaves have stiff hairs that become triggered once they are touched. If enough pressure is applied, the two lobes of the leaf will immediately shut, trapping whatever landed there inside.

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What plant's narrow foliage can range in color, including deep red, chartreuse or silver?

Different species of dracaena will grow in different colors, and sometimes in color pairs; you can find dracaenas with blue and green, purple and burgundy, chartreuse and gray. Sunlight can affect the vibrancy of these colors for better or worse, so be sure your dracaena is happy!

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Which plant's name is directly related to the noticeable veins in its leaves?

Also known as a Fittonia or mosaic plant, the nerve plant gets its nickname from the way the veins in its leaves manifest. The nervous system in our bodies comes to mind, especially when the veins are highlighted in a beautiful red shade contrasting against the dark green of the leaf.

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Which plant features two bulbous leaves that are essentially fused together, resembling a rock?

Living stones, otherwise known as Lithops or pebble plants, are pretty convincing, aren't they? Each colorful species is associated with one type of rock and will not be found anywhere else.

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What animal would you say the leaves of this plant resemble?

Yes, this is a dolphin succulent! Other than its official name, Senecio peregrinus, there really couldn't be another name for this plant — the little leaves do look exactly like tiny swimming dolphins. This succulent is a hybrid between the string of pearls succulent and the hot dog cactus.

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Which plant features large, smooth, bright green leaves, along with a striking black flower with threadlike tendrils?

While the black bat flower's leaves make this a notable plant, the truly striking detail here is what its name suggests — the flower! Its all-black appearance and long, wispy tendrils make this plant one of a kind.

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Which tree with iconic leaves produces sap that's used for many products we enjoy?

Everyone knows the maple leaf! It is featured on the Canadian flag, after all. Still, there are maple trees all over the world, varying in appearance. Those that grace the landscapes of North America are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves each fall, but some in southern Asia never lose their leaves.

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Of these hip plants, which one is constantly featured in film, magazines and blogs, due to its large, distinguishable leaves?

The popularity of the fiddle leaf fig may know no bounds! Some attribute its hike in popularity to Ikea carrying smaller figs in recent years for as low as $14, which surely put them in a super high number of homes. Now, any plant shop you walk into or visit online is constantly selling out of it.

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Which succulent is aptly named, due to its hanging cylindrical stems and leaves?

The burro's tail succulent is another properly nicknamed plant. With its stacked leaves on hanging stems, it really does begin to resemble a bunch of animals' tails. While these make for super fun houseplants, do keep in mind they are very sensitive to overwatering; those tails can quickly lose their leaves with too much moisture.

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Which caladium's name speaks to one of the dominant colors seen in its leaves?

There are many caladiums for us to admire, often named for the coloring on their leaves, but none stands out as much as the white queen caladium. You can grow this plant in the shade, making it quite hardy.

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Which plant offers a plethora of health benefits, including promotion of healthy skin, hair and nails?

Bamboo leaves contain a high level of fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients. On top of the beauty benefits, they can aid our digestive system, reduce high blood pressure and even help prevent Alzheimer's disease.

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What name is correct for the succulent pictured?

Greenovia is more commonly known as the rose succulent because, well, look at it! You can find these little cuties in different shades of green and pink, making them an especially unique way to gift someone a bouquet the next time you want to send roses.

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All Aglaonema plants are named for their leaf variegation. Which name best matches these leaves?

Aglaonemas are known for their striking leaf variegations. What makes them stand out even more is the number of shades you can find them in. If you have one of these at home, be sure you're giving it plenty of sunlight so its colors can shine.

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What plant's leaves would you pluck if you need soothing relief for itchy, dry, even sunburned skin?

If you don't have an aloe plant growing at home, go out and get one now! Aside from easing minor burns and cuts, aloe vera plants are great for purifying the air in your home. These sun-loving plants help clear formaldehyde and benzene, which can come from cleaners and paints.

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What cactus is also known as the fishbone cactus?

Now, this would be a fun addition to your home garden or indoor collection. The zig-zag cactus is part of the night blooming cactus family, and when it does flower you can expect pretty, colorful pink blooms. But keep in mind, these do only bloom at night, and potentially only once a year, so don't miss it when they do!

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Which of these plants is named for its leaves' resemblance to coins?

Yet another increasingly popular plant to grow at home, the Chinese money plant came to Europe via a Norwegian missionary in 1946. Because of this, it is also known as the Chinese missionary plant. You may know it by its proper name, Pilea peperomioides.

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The markings on the leaves of this plant determine what it is called. What would you call this one?

You can see the peacock pattern, right? As part of the Calathea family, the peacock plant truly stands out among others (just like the zebra plant or rattlesnake plant) with its unique markings. This particular species is challenging to grow at home, though, and it will only grow to about 2 feet with proper care.

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Looking for that right shade of red? Which is the correct name for this vibrant succulent?

A lot of people out there rock a signature red lip — now you can have a signature red plant! You can find these in varying saturation of red, with some that are brightly colored all over, others that are green with red tips.

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A favorite herb for many, and for many reasons — which plant do these leaves belong to?

For those who appreciate a good herb garden, mint is one of those you should not leave out. With all of its uses and health benefits, it's a no-brainer! What's best is that once these start to grow, there's no stopping them.

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A huge variety of ferns grows throughout the world, but none quite like this one. What is its name?

There are so many ferns in the world that an entire quiz could be dedicated to all the different species! Still, the staghorn fern stands out as unique, with its distinctively shaped leaves that resemble animal horns.

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Which plant is also known as the Swiss cheese plant?

Monstera deliciosa, or the Swiss cheese plant, has quickly become another favored household plant, often seen in blogs and interior design publications. What draws people most is the way the plant's leaves split as it matures.

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What name best describes the animal this succulent's leaves resemble?

Aren't these so cute? Rabbit succulents, aka Monilaria obconica, do eventually grow into (or out of) their ears as they mature, but as each newly formed sprout appears, you can count on it first looking like an adorable bunny rabbit.

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What is the name of this spindly cactus that is swiftly becoming a popular houseplant?

This unique cactus has quickly become a staple for plant lovers and aspiring jungle owners. While this is a super fun addition to any collection, especially since it grows so quickly, do be aware of its toxic milky sap when handling this plant.

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The cactus-like foliage seen here surrounds a flower that inspires a rather iconic nickname. Can you guess what this plant is?

Now, this is a unique-looking plant! While its leaves would lead you to believe it is of the cactus family, it is actually a milkweed plant. This is a super easy plant to manage, and it can be grown successfully by green thumbs of all levels.

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Which tree will provide you with both shade and material to weave a basket?

Palm trees are a neat type of plant. Some species grow coconuts; others have leaves that are strong enough to be used for many things, from basketweaving to building material (say, for fences) to fuel.

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Some plants among us are considered to be living fossils. Can you name the leafy one shown here?

This plant can only be found in the deserts of Namibia and Angola; any close relatives have gone extinct. Carbon dating puts this plant at being able to live up to 2,000 years, and even in all of that time, it will only grow two leaves that tatter with age.

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Pleomele is another name for which species of Dracaena?

The Dracaena reflexa is one of the more ornamental species of Dracaena. Its bright green leaves and thick stems are highly valued, and its slow-growth patterns are perfect for any tabletop or plant stand.

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This plant gets its name from being nearly impossible to kill. Do you know what it is?

Devil's ivy does not have any sort of superstition, lore or legend behind its name; it merely reflects how resilient the plant is. This plant will grow in super harsh conditions and can even thrive in the dark. There's really no hurting this one!

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Which succulent is also known as the sweetheart plant?

The Hoya kerrii succulent is also known as the sweetheart plant, and it can be found either as a single clipping of one heart leaf or as a full plant. There's no doubt that this plant sells out like crazy around Valentine's Day.

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Of the Bromeliad family, which one produces food we can eat?

If it is surprising that pineapple plants belong to the Bromeliad family, you may be interested to learn that a common ingredient in meat tenderizer, called bromelain, is taken from pineapple stems. Some plants in the Bromeliad family are grown as showy houseplants.

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This super unique plant is often referred to as elephant ears. Can you choose another popular name for it?

Many names are attached to this plant, including Alocasia and the Kris plant. However, the African mask plant is an interesting name, as it does not actually come from Africa, but rather, the Philippines. This nickname took hold because the plant's leaves resemble African hand-carved ceremonial masks.

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Grafted succulents form which beautiful plant that might seem at home in the ocean?

The coral cactus is not a cactus at all — it is a "Franken-plant" made up of two succulents grafted together. The graceful ruffled fan on top may be white, green, yellow, red or purple. Be careful — the coral cactus is known for its poisonous sap.

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Which of these fern names could also be used to describe unkempt hair?

Aren't plant names fun? The bird's nest fern can typically be found growing on buildings or trees, but what inspires its name is that the crown in the middle of the plant looks exactly like a bird's nest. Wouldn't be surprised to see a family of birds hanging out in one!

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Can you name this plant that has a wide range of leafy colors, thanks to its tropical origin?

Cordylines are the perfect pop of color for any garden; you can find these in numerous shades of greens, yellows, oranges, reds and pinks, purples, and creams and whites. Even their leaf shape and size can vary, depending on whether the species is from Hawaii, South America, Asia or Australia.

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Can you pick the plant with a name as memorable as the coloring of its leaves?

So, this houseplant has a bit of a heavy legacy. Its name refers to the legend of a Jewish man who scoffed at Jesus as he was carrying his cross to be crucified. The man was then cursed to wander the Earth until Jesus' second coming.

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