Thursday, May 19, 2011

The How-To's of IDing Plants

As a Master Gardener, I am often asked to
identify plants for friends and family.

Whenever I attempt to ID a plant,
there are several clues that I look for
in my quest to ID the elusive plant.

I thought that it might be a good idea
to share some of these key points
in this post,
so that you would also know what to look
for and what to describe
to your resident plant expert
the next time you have a mystery plant.

First things first.
If it is a flowering plant:
we look at the flowers.

Let's start with what time of year the plant blooms
and whether it is an annual or perennial (if known).

And we might as well ask how tall is the plant?

It is also very helpful to know if the plant is in
a sunny or shady spot in the garden.

What color are the blooms
and how many petals are there?

If they are simple-shaped flowers, count the petals.

Or are they daisy-shaped flowers?

Are the flowers rounded clusters?

Are the flowers set in umbrels (umbrella shapes)?

Are the blooms multi-petaled?

English Perfume rose.

Geoff Hamilton rose.

Sarah Bernhardt peony.

Are the blooms irregularly shaped?

Being able to describe the flower shape is quite helpful.

Next, the leaves and stem.

Are the leaves compound and frilly?

This yarrow leaf is fern-like.

Are the leaves deeply cut?

Are the leaves palmate?

Do the leaves whorl around the stem,
climbing like a spiral staircase?

Are the leaves opposite,
with two leaves directly across the stem from each other?

Are the leaves alternate,
taking turns climbing the stem?

Are the leaf edges smooth or toothed?

Are the leaves long and thin,
about as wide as they are long or somewhere in between?

Is the stem hairy, spiny or smooth?

Is the stem square?
Hint, if it is , then the plant is in the mint family.

This is lemon catnip.

Is the stem vining or creeping?

If you can answer these questions for your plant expert
when you first ask them to ID a plant,
then you will be helping them find you an answer more easily.

1 comment:

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Rosie runs to her garden to find another plant for Mar to ID.