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Plant Identification Amy Jo Detweiler, Jan McNeilan, Gail Gredler Horticulture Department.

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Presentation on theme: "Plant Identification Amy Jo Detweiler, Jan McNeilan, Gail Gredler Horticulture Department."— Presentation transcript:

1 Plant Identification Amy Jo Detweiler, Jan McNeilan, Gail Gredler Horticulture Department

2 List 6 reasons why plant identification is important

3 History of Plant Nomenclature (naming of organisms) herbs undershrubs shrubs trees Dates back to 200 B.C. to China and Egypt Greeks and Romans classified plants into 4 groups

4 Listed plants using Latin terms, e.g. carnation would be

5 Another example: Oriental ivy-leaved maple

6 Binomial System of Nomenclature system developed by Carl Von Linne or Linnaeus in the 1700’s used to methodically classify and name the whole of the natural world Species Plantarum (1753) system still in use today

7 Botanical nomenclature language is mainly Latin with Greek and some other languages these are “dead languages” whose words and meanings will likely change little over time

8 The names of plants The scientific name for a plant consists of two words: 1.Genus or generic name 2. specific epithet species e.g.Quercus rubra

9 Back to our example: Acer orientalis hederae folio under the binomial system would be…

10 Carpinus caroliniana

11 Reasons not to use common names

12 Nymphaea alba European White Waterlily

13 By using the binomial system of nomenclature, plant names are the same in all languages! Every plant has a “first and last name” where the last name is written first.

14 Binomial Nomenclature clarifies plant i.d. Deodar cedar Atlas cedar

15 Plant Classification There are over 1 million botanically different plants in existence named by the binomial system of nomenclature. Modified by the International Congresses in Plant Taxonomy

16 Plant Classification Kingdom Division Class Order Family Genus Species Gardeners use these 3

17 Which part of the plant is used for classification?

18 Plant Classification Nearly all classifications are based on the parts of the and the ___ ______ ____.

19 Family a group of plants with similar characteristics especially flowers, fruits, and seeds, the reproductive structures are used for distinction. The size of a family varies from 1 to 100+ e.g Ginkgoaceae has one genus Ginkgo biloba Rosaceae has 100 genera (Malus, Spiraea, Rosa)

20 Genus(plural genera) a group of plants which is a closely related, definable group of plants exhibiting similar characteristics (flowers, fruit, stems, leaves, or roots) and genetic affinity

21 The genus is usually a noun, capitalized and can serve to describe one of the following: a plants appearance-Hemerocallis (day and beauty) supposed medicinal qualities- Pulmonaria (lungwort) resemblance to body parts- Hepatica (liver) honors a person by using their name – Kalmia (Peter Kalm)

22 Specific epithet the second word in a scientific plant name, not capitalized and usually an adjective used to describe size, color, leaf shape, growth habit, origin of the plant or to commemorate a person.

23 The specific epithet can give us hints plant about the plant: Cotoneaster horizontalis Coreopsis gigantea Clerodendrum thomsoniae Godetia grandiflora Cistus x purpureus Chionanthus virginicus

24 Species the basis of the binomial system of nomenclature a difficult word to define, a population of individuals within a genus that are capable ________________________________ _________________________

25 Writing plant names correctly scientific names should always be underlined or in italics the genus is capitalized, the specific epithet is not the name is only complete if it is followed by the name of the person who first described or named it

26 For example: Red Oak Quercus rubra Linnaeus or Quercus rubra L. Quercus rubra or Quercus rubra

27 Plant species can be divided more specifically into: a cultivar variety hybrid forma

28 Cultivar “Cultivated variety” or horticultural variety plants within a species that have been selected especially for a particular characteristic and are propagated, usually asexually to continue this trait(growth habit, flower, fruitless)

29 Cultivar names written in plain text, capitalized and set off by single quotes, e.g. Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’ Viburnum opulus cv. Roseum

30 Variety botanical or wild variety a group of plants intermediate between species and forma and usually associated with inheritable differences. They are recognized as distinct populations breeding true to type

31 Variety names written in lowercase and italicized or underlined e.g. Pinus contorta var. contorta Shore Pine Pinus contorta var. latifolia Lodgepole Pine

32 Hybrid two closely related but distinct species will be interbreed to form a hybrid are often sterile and produce no seed or fruit

33 Hybrid names written in lowercase and italicized or underlined an “x” is placed between the genus and hybrid epithet Platanus occidentalis crossed with Platanus orientalis Plantanus x acerifolia

34 Plant name exercise What is the name of the plant that produces maple syrup?

35 Integrated Approach to Plant Identification Visual inspection of plant characteristics Photographic references Plant classification keys Expert advice

36 Collect information about what you see: Herbaceous, conifer, broadleaved evergreen, deciduous?

37 Collect information about what you see: What is the overall form of the plant?

38 Collect information about what you see: What are the characteristics of individual plant parts?

39 Leaf type-simple leaf

40 Leaf type-pinnately compound

41 Leaf type





46 Leaf Arrangement




50 Types of Venation




54 Leaf margins

55 Stem and Bud

56 Other i.d.features - buds

57 Other i.d.features- bark

58 Other i.d.features - spines

59 Other i.d.features -fruit


61 Other i.d.features – flower & fruit

62 Conifer I.D.: Cones

63 Other i.d.features - flowers

64 Using dichotomous keys to identify plants A.B.BB.C.D.DD.CC.AA.E.EE.F.FF.G.H. A dichotomous key offers users a choice between two characters. By making a series of choices between two characters, a correct I.D. is made.

65 An example for shoes A. leather B. velcro closures EZ BB. shoe laces C. colored leather D. red Zippy DD. blue Snazzy CC. white leather AA. canvas E. velcro closures EE. shoe laces F. low top Keds FF. high top Converse

66 Example of dichotomous key A. Leaves needle-like B. Needles clustered C. 2-5 needles/cluster Pine CC. >10 needles/cluster BB. Needles not clustered D. Pegs on twigs E. Square, sharp needles Spruce EE. Round, blunt needles Hemlock DD. No pegs on twigs F. Large pointed buds Douglas-fir FF. Buds round, clustered True fir AA. Leaves flattened and scale-like G. All leaves short and sharp Giant Sequoia GG. Some leaves not sharp


68 Needles are soft

69 Needles longer than ½” No pegs on twigs


71 flower and fruit leaf edges not smooth leaf not thick and leathery fruit is nutlike and dry

72 More resources Landscape Plants Images, Identification, and Information Volume 1 Copyright, Oregon State University, 1999-2004

73 More resources


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