Main Narrative » Fern Fever

Women's Scientific Empowerment

By Amy Weiss

Feb 15 2019

Natural history was immensely popular in the Victorian era, but women were excluded from many natural history clubs and socially barred from some fields of study that might require the killing of insects or other animals. Collections of seaweed and ferns, however, could be shared and admired by friends without presenting the 'immodest' sexual parts apparent in flowers and animals. These G-rated plants and algae were available close to home, but were still an open invitation to adventure and the thrill of the hunt.


Giaimo, C. 2016. The forgotten Victorian craze for collecting seaweed. Atlas Obscura. Available at: (Accessed: 25 January 2019).

Haddad, A. 2017. Nature for ladies: The Victorian art of flower & seaweed pressing. Merchant's House Museum. Available at: (Accessed: 25 January 2019).