How do you confirm an ID?

shelley_r(7b NC)July 23, 2004

If you're not an expert on local flora, but you're learning to ID plants, how do you know if you're right? Confirming with an expert is great, but there's not always an expert handy. My neighbor has a tree (a volunteer) that she doesn't know. I think I have identified it (Tilia americana var. caroliniana, Carolina Basswood), but how can I be sure? I need to do this for dozens of plants in my yard. I don't have an expert available (unless one of you lives in NC). Taking photos of everything and posting them on Gardenweb for someone to ID doesn't seem the right way to go either. So, do you have any suggestions for confirming an ID? I'm looking for general guidelines, not a confirmation of this particular tree. Thanks!


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chloect(z5 CT)

If I am unsure about an ID, two questions usually confirm it. One, what is the plant's range? Two, what is its typical habitat? Those narrow your answer down quite a bit right off the bat. -Chloe

    Bookmark   July 23, 2004 at 10:29PM
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froggy(z4/5 WI) be sure, u need to go to a herbarium.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2004 at 12:34AM
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ken_mce(zone 4, NY)

Snip a branch off that Basswod and take it to a nursery. Ask them what it is.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2004 at 8:28AM
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shelley_r(7b NC)

I considered the plant's range when I made my tentative ID. But, I never would have thought about checking it at a herbarium. The New York Botanical Garden has all their images online, so I checked it this morning. It matches perfectly! I can't wait to check my "weeds" this way. Thanks for the great idea, froggy.

Here's the link. They say:
"We have now completed photographing the vascular plant type specimens. Digital images of over 85,000 specimens are now available in this catalog."


Here is a link that might be useful: Vascular Plant Types Catalog at the New York Botanical Garden

    Bookmark   July 24, 2004 at 9:00AM
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" I checked it this morning. It matches perfectly! I can't wait to check my "weeds" this way"

Sounds like a lot of fun ... once you get a good ID save the collection in your own herbarium then you will have a good reference collection for later on if you need to be reminded what the plant is ... in fact make a note on the collection data as to how you confirmed your plant ID.

Sometimes even herbariums need to send out plants to be identified by experts in that deal with a certain group of plants ....

Thanks for the link ..

Good Day ..

    Bookmark   July 24, 2004 at 10:11AM
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froggy(z4/5 WI)

well i actually ment to go to the actual herbarium but whatever works...

just remember tho, the ppl and plants in herbariums are lonely down there. and so full of plant facts that just hanging out will help ur taxonomy thru sheer osmosis.

id say ur next step is a plant press!


    Bookmark   July 24, 2004 at 8:05PM
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Shelley, if you're interested, there was a good discussion on the Dried Flower Forum about starting a herbarium, good tips and links. josh

Here is a link that might be useful: Herbarium

    Bookmark   July 25, 2004 at 3:22AM
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I agree with Froggy ... putting collections sisde by side is a big plus and getting to know your local herbariums a big help ...

Good Day ...

    Bookmark   July 25, 2004 at 10:16AM
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shelley_r(7b NC)

OK, Mohave, froggy, and Josh - you've convinced me of the value of herbariums. And, yeah, I see the plant press coming. But, I've got to get some work done in my yard and get the house organized a little before I start another obsession. LOL Nothing is just a hobby for me; anything I'm interested in will consume all the time I'm not at work or sleeping. But, I promise that I will visit the plants (and people) at the closest herbarium as soon as I have a free day. And, froggy, you're sure about that osmosis part, right?


    Bookmark   July 25, 2004 at 11:33AM
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I work at an arboretum and we are far behind the NYBG with cataloging our trees on all the grids. Just because it just appeared growing doesn't mean it's native or local for that matter. That's what we have been studing, trees of the North America, but we have collections from around the world. Some money is going to be put aside for the correct ID of all that we have but we need more than anything a person who can work on the computer. I suggested taking pictures and going from there.

If you have a extention office, that's a good place to start because there's usually more than a few who will try their hardest to get it right and when there's that many people it's your best answer , meanwhile your helping others learn more too. Hoped this helped.
I'm amost afraid to admit that local trees are one of the easiest groups to learn but somehow because I'm a women and stared with perennial, I know the least about them. Men seen to work from trees down.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2004 at 4:50AM
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agnellok(Z9 So. Calif)

What about going to your local garden nursery ?? Most of my neighbors wouldn't even know what a California native looks like. They end up buying what ever is available at our local nursery.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2004 at 2:59PM
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