Idenifying plants

David R. Hershey dh321 at PGSTUMAIL.PG.CC.MD.US
Wed May 28 12:28:06 EST 1997

Books are still the standard method of identifying plants because it is
best to identify the plant in the field before it is pressed and dried. If
you are after wild plants, photographic field guides like the National
Audubon Society series are good. College or university libraries may have
more detailed floras, which exist for most regions of the US. They use
dichotomous keys, which use words rather than pictures. If there is an
arboretum, botanical garden, or national or state park nearby, you could
possibly check your identifications with their labeled specimens. 

There are few keys for cultivated plants so identifying them may be more
difficult to do by yourself. A local gardening club may be able to help. 
There are also lots of gardening books and catalogs with color photos that
can be helpful in identifications. 

There should be enough easy-to-identify plants to make a collection. 
Thus, you may want to avoid collecting anything that you cannot readily
identify. Trees and shrubs may be easier to identify than wildflowers
because they are usually identified by leaves, twigs, and fruit
characteristics rather than their flowers. Wildflowers not in bloom are a
challenge to identify. 

On 18 May 1997, Daniel Hoang wrote:

> I am doing a science project for biology and am in the process of creating
> a plant collection.  Now I have to identify the plants.  I live in the
> northwest area.  What is the best way to identify the plants.  Is there a
> website that has a catelog of all the plants?  I am using books but the
> process is so tedious and not all the books have what I need.
> Please send me mail at rongvang at

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