Can You Identify These 40 Common Plants in Five Minutes?


By: Dustyn Deerman

7 Min Quiz

Image: Sue Bishop / Stockbyte / Getty Images

About This Quiz

For a good number of people, all plants probably look the same them. It doesn't matter what color it is, how tall it reaches, or even what actual species it is — some people just don't have an eye for plants and what makes them unique from one another. With over 300,000 species of them on our planet, it would be just about impossible to know what each and every single plant is named. But what about a few dozen of them?  That seems doable, right?

Your challenge is to see if you can beat the clock and name all of the plants featured in this quiz in five minutes or less! You'll be tested on 40 of the most common plants you can find in the forest or the desert, at beaches and swamps, in tropical or dry climates and even in your home. Find out if you can tell the difference between a pothos or philodendron, or if you know what plants are edible and which definitely are not. Do you know the state flower of Texas? How about the national flower of Japan?

All of this and more awaits you. Prove you have the greenest thumb and quickest draw of all by acing this quiz. Get your timer out!

What is the national flower of Japan?

The cherry blossom, or "sakura" in Japanese, symbolizes spring, renewal and hope. Cherry blossoms are so revered across Japan, that a number of traditions surround them and the tree from which they come. One of them is "hanami," a centuries-old custom of picnicking underneath cherry blossom trees.


Which flower gets its name from its ability to track the sun?

Sunflowers display a behavior called "heliotropism" where the flower buds and young blossoms face towards the east in the morning and then follow the sun as it makes its way westward through the day. Matured sunflower stems eventually stiffen and stay rooted facing towards the east.


If you have a problem with insects, which one of these plants could help?

Venus flytraps have a limited number of times that they can actually trap their prey. After each capture, it takes about a week and a half for the plant to absorb nutrients, keeping it from trapping anything else. They can reopen about six times before they permanently close, but they still continue to photosynthesize.


Which of these flowers is commonly used in aromatherapy?

Lavender's fragrance is believed to help promote a sense of calmness and is also said to help reduce stress and anxiety. This use of lavender dates back to the Greeks and Romans, who would often use lavender in their public baths.


If you were traveling through the Sonoran Desert, what cactus would you come upon?

The saguaro cactus can only be found in the Sonoran Desert of California and Arizona because it can not handle much, if any, frost. You won't find these anywhere above 3,500 feet in elevation. Fun fact: The blossom of the saguaro cactus is Arizona's state wildflower.


What plant is incredibly useful in that you can ingest its root, leaves and flower?

Dandelions can be used for food, medicine and dye. A fun thing about this plant is that every morning, it will open up to greet the sun and then close back up at night to go to sleep.


What plant has 900 different species in existence?

Philodendron can be found all over the world, but they originate in North, Central and South America. They are most prominent in tropical rainforests and swamps but can be cultivated and bought as house plants.


Which tree below is responsible for giving us only the best of comforting, sweet treats?

Cacao trees, also sometimes known as cocoa trees, grow their fruit directly on their trunks. These little melon-like fruits contain anywhere from 20 to 50 seeds (or beans) inside. It takes about 400 of these little beans to make just one pound of chocolate!


Which plant is considered to be a symbol of both sleep and death?

According to Greek and Roman mythology, the poppy used to be put on tombstones in order to symbolize that person was now sleeping for all eternity. The flower would also symbolize the blood of fallen soldiers who perished on the battlefields during war.


Which flower can be found anywhere on the Earth except for Antarctica?

Daisies are so common around the world, that if they are not controlled, they can actually become more of an annoying weed. You may want to go out and pick them every so often, not just for maintenance, but their leaves can be quite a tasty addition to a salad (high in Vitamin C too).


"Leaves of three, let it be" is a saying that should be taken seriously when it comes to which plant?

Poison oak leaves have three leaflets, hence the saying. Leaflet sizes will vary, but it's not just the leaflets you need to worry about. Every part of the plant contains the poisonous oil that will cause a severe rash if it gets on your skin.


In parts of the U.S., what tree is often used as a Christmas tree?

Douglas firs may be appreciated for their lushness and beauty around the holidays, but their massive size also makes the lumber that comes from them quite valuable. These trees can even survive forest fires because of the thickness of their bark.


Which wetland plant can often be seen in marshes and on the edge of ponds?

The cattail is regarded as a good survival food; you can eat the roots, shoots and seed heads. In fact, it is said that cattails were a diet staple of some Native American tribes and rural European communities well before modern food appeared.


What plant has been said by interior designers that it is THE indoor plant of the decade?

Hailing from West Africa, the fiddle leaf fig has taken over the living rooms and bedrooms of many homes over the past few years. While it is a very tame plant indoors, back in its natural habitat the fiddle leaf will kill another plant in order to establish its roots and grow.


Which plant has a name that would lead you to believe it is something that it is not?

The calla lily may be a flowering plant, but it is not technically a lily; it is actually a tuber. These types of plants are grown from bulbous roots that have finger-like growths on them. Many tubers are edible, like potatoes and yams, but the roots of the calla lily are poisonous.


Which plant is a major food source for grizzly bears?

As grizzlies are bulking up for their long winter's nap, lady ferns make up a decent part of their diet. We humans will use lady ferns as well; they are good for use in treating lung and breathing problems as well as digestive tract illnesses.


Which of these are said to ensure happiness when gifted to someone in a bouquet?

A bouquet is great, but never gift a single daffodil because it is believed it can bring bad luck. While you can find these in most of North America, they are very popular in the U.K. In fact, the daffodil is the national flower of Wales. They say if you spot the first one of the season, your next year will be filled with wealth!


Which cactus bears a fruit that can help cure the common hangover?

The prickly pear cactus isn't just good for helping with hangovers, it is also used in treating diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity. Aside from its medicinal uses, it is also actually quite nice to eat; the neon fruits the cactus produces are said to taste like a cross between bubble gum and watermelon.


Which plant will grow on the side of any house, tangle itself with any fence and climb up any surface it touches?

Another name for this plant is English ivy and it grows year-round, some of them getting to be as big as 80 feet! This can become a very invasive plant, so some pruning is likely necessary if you do have it growing anywhere on or near your home.


Which plant's name is inspired by a Greek word that means "female dragon"?

The ancient Greeks had a word for "female dragon," Drakaina. Due to the plant's leaves featuring a deep red that some believe to resemble that of the color of dragon blood, the dracena got its name.


What plant has modified leaves called "pitfall traps" that help them catch their food?

Inside of a pitcher plant is a pool of digestive liquid that decays and absorbs the nutrients from unsuspecting insects that are just looking for some nectar. Once the insect is inside, the lid at the top will close down and trap it, where it will eventually slide into the liquid and die.


Which of these flowers are best known for their elusive smell?

Everyone knows what violet smells like, but an interesting thing about actually smelling a violet is that its scent seems to disappear after one sniff. This is due to the fact the these flowers contain a chemical called ionine, which temporarily desensitizes the sense of smell.


Among its many uses, which plant can also help prevent malaria?

Eucalyptus trees are sometimes planted in areas with high malaria rates because they have a chemical in them called cineole. This can help reduce the population of mosquitoes. It is so effective that it is sometimes used as an ingredient in common mosquito repellents.


What plant is known as the "shoe flower" in China?

In China this plant gets its name because people will often use them to polish their shoes. Other areas of the world use the flower for clothing purposes, like in Polynesia where they will use fibers from the bark of a hibiscus tree to produce grass skirts. These flowers are also used for natural dyes in the food industry.


Which one of these plants produces a substance that is used to make sweets like syrup and taffy?

Maple trees (sugar, black and red maples, specifically) are tapped for their sap, then that is boiled and out comes maple syrup or maple taffy! Aside from its sweeter uses, maple wood is used often in the production of violins, violas, guitars and drums (and, of course, furniture and a number of common things).


What's the name of the plant that couples pucker up underneath every Christmas?

The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe started in ancient Greece. It would happen at marriage ceremonies because the plant is associated with fertility. It is supposedly bad luck to refuse a kiss, and afterwards the couple is supposed to pluck a single berry from the plant.


Which plant grows little "babies" called "plantlets"?

Spider plants are one of the easiest house plants you can keep alive. They are incredibly hearty and can withstand too much or too little of both water and the sun. Plus, those "plantlets" they grow ... simply pluck one, put it in some soil, and then water it. Voila, you have a new plant!


What plant has leaves that actively open and close based on how much sun it is receiving?

Prayer plants are very reactive to their surroundings; if there is not enough light or it is nighttime, they will not open fully. On the other hand, if they are getting too much sunlight, their leaves will quickly start to fade. At least this way, you know whether or not your plant is happy!


Which flower's buds are notorious for being almost perfectly symmetrical?

Even with over 150 species of tulip and over 3,000 different varieties, this species of flower still manages to hold up its reputation for being nearly symmetrical. One fun thing is that with all of these different varieties comes a tulip for every occasion; need to right a wrong? White tulips mean "I'm sorry."


What plant is considered to be the ultimate go-to for every shade of green thumb?

Pothos are awesome house plants because they can tolerate just about any level of light, humidity and cooler temperatures. Heck, they can even be over-watered and still bounce back just fine. To top it all off, they are a plant that is great at removing air toxins. Put one in every room!


Got a sunburn? What should you reach for?

It is common knowledge that aloe [vera] is one of the best things for treating a sunburn, as well as itchiness and inflammation, but the plant is useful in many other ways too. It can help with a number of digestive issues, especially when you drink it (yes you can drink aloe; it is actually pretty tasty).


Which of these flowers is totally surrounded by lore?

A Blackfoot maiden falls in love with a wounded prisoner who was captured by her tribe. They escape to his camp, where she grows homesick and goes to see her old camp. After hearing two young braves discussing what would happen if they found her, she draws a picture of the camp using a stick and her own blood. She throws the stick and returns to her lover's camp. Later, a plant grows with a bush-like end, dyed with the blood of the girl, making the first Indian paintbrush.


Which of these would you add to a little bit of rum, sugar and soda water in order to make a delicious mojito?

Mint is an incredible plant with so many uses and benefits. Tasty cocktails aside, mint is great for soothing an upset stomach, improving digestion, combating the common cold and flu, reducing fever, treating bad breath and reducing stress.


Which plant gets its name from the time of day it opens its flower?

Morning glories do not stay open for too long; they will open their flowers right as the morning starts and then close them in the afternoon. On the flip side, the moonflower is a similar type of plant, only it opens its flower at night.


What plant purifies air in your home by absorbing toxins through its leaves and producing pure oxygen?

Also known as "Mother'-in-Law's Tongue," this is an ideal bedroom plant. While most plants are likely to release carbon dioxide at night when they are not going through photosynthesis, the snake plant continues to produce oxygen. So if you have respiratory problems, put a snake plant in your room!


Which cactus is also known as the "Queen of the Night"?

This cactus is one of the rare plants that will bloom at night. When it does, it produces a large, sweet-smelling white flower that moths will pollinate. If pollination happens, the cactus produces juicy red fruit.


What tree can live up to 1,000 years, sometimes longer?

Pine trees can live for a very long time. In fact, the longest-living species of pine is the Great Basin bristlecone pine, Pinus longaeva. The oldest one on earth can be found in the White Mountains of California; "Methuselah" is around 4,800 years old.


This plant belongs to the asparagus family, despite its name. What is it called?

That's right, lily of the valley is not technically a lily; scientifically, it is classified as part of the Asparagacea family. But don't let the fact that it is a part of the asparagus family fool you. This flower can be poisonous if it is ingested.


What plant may be beautiful, but you do not want it growing right next to your house?

Wisteria vines are such aggressive growers that they can sometimes cause damage to homes if they're allowed to spread without any real pruning. If given the chance, they will happily twist and sprawl all over everything in their path.


What is the name of this springtime favorite and state flower of Texas?

Texans love the bluebonnet so much that when spring rolls around, you can count on them hitting the road purely to see their favorite flower in bloom. It is actually illegal to pick bluebonnets if they are on someone's private property, due to trespassing laws.


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