Ref. to Identify Plants

aphrk at Msu.oscs.montana.edu aphrk at Msu.oscs.montana.edu
Mon Jul 25 12:58:21 EST 1994


Grant:  You ask for a scholarly book, yet you want easy pictures.  Hmm.
Well, you could spend lots of money and purchase large volume sets such
as the 5-volume set of Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest by
Hitchcock (if you live in the Pac. NW).  They are $50 each and have line
drawings for each species.  However, each state has their own floras
and may not have such volumes written.  

Positive plant identification (is there any other?) depends upon using the
key of a state's flora correctly.  That is, to make sure you are identifying
correctly you need to learn a skill called "keying out".  I suggest two 
things:  1) take a class at a university or through an adult education class
(this depends on whether such a class exists); or 2) purchase "How To Identify
Plants" by H.D. Harrington, AND purchase your state's flora and teach yourself.
Check with your local university herbarium (if it hasn't been sold or locked
up) to ask which flora you should purchase.  

If you attempt to learn any other way you will sooner or later misidentify
a plant.  This may not have dire consequences other than to one's pride if
your purpose is only one of curiosity.  HOwever, if you are using the plants
for food or medicine, you will soon be in big trouble.  

Other suggestions:  If you are going to use the plants be sure to learn the
poisonous plants of your state 1st.  Also, check out your state's native 
plant society and learn how to identify with them...they usually offer free
plant hikes, etc.

Robyn Klein
Herbalist



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