Woodland Plant Key
Using this key to identify woodland plants

This key includes flowering plants, both shrubs and plants which grow to be shorter than shrubs, and ferns. (Grasses and sedges will be added in 2008.) We have endeavoured to make this key easy to use for everyone. This means that botanists may notice some inaccuracies in terminology – apologies but necessary for accessibility!

There may be more than one characteristic within a category which seems to fit. Plants are naturally variable – a good thing, as genetic variation is the crux of biological diversity - and also some characteristics of plants are hard to make out without magnification, such as with a hand lens or a microscope.

You don’t have to choose a single or any feature in each category – some may not be applicable to the plant or to what you saw (such as, if you didn’t see the seeds or fruits). Start with the characteristics you are sure of – the list of possible species will be gradually reduced.

Please keep in mind this key is still being improved, and we welcome all your feedback! (sashatrees at hotmail dot com).

How to use this woodland plant key

When you open the key, there will be four panels. The upper lefthand panel shows a series of characteristics you might choose from. This include characteristics related to flowers, fruits, leaves, stems and growth form.

You can choose any characteristic or feature you noticed about the plant, and the species which never have this feature will be eliminated from the list of possible species on the righthand side.

For example, choose 'no green parts' under 'whole plant', and you will be left with a short list of the few non-green (parastic or decomposer) flowers that occur in woodlands (many of these are rare).

A more common feature, such as 'woody at the base', or 'oval leaves', will narrow the list of potential species as well, although to a lesser degree.

Keep choosing additional features, and the list of possible species will continue to be reduced.

enter woodland plant key

The key is up and running - let us know how it works for you. The key is written using Lucid software. In order to use the key, you need to have Java Virtual Machine v1.4.2 or newer installed. This can be downloaded from here. (Apple users: download from the Apple website.)

Please note that the first time you use the key, you may get a blank white screen for a few moments while the key player is loading. This may happen even with a fast internet connection. Please wait for a few minutes - once loaded, the key should open automatically for you. If it doesn't open within a few minutes, try refreshing the page.


Tell us what works and what can be improved! And thanks for trying out the Bosbeer woodland plant key. Email: sashatrees at hotmail dot com


About this key

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