Virtual Museum of Canada
Jardin botanique de Montréal 
Centre for Forest Research

Identifying trees - Tools

For a tree not to be just a tree amongst many others, but a specific living being with specific characteristics, there are identification tools.

Among the There are many tools to identify the species precisely:

  • floras: description of plants in a given region
  • field guides : illustrated field tools divided according to categories
  • identification keys: devices to deduct the name by a choice of questions and answers
  • encyclopaedias: general books with many plants described
  • monographs: manual describing a plant or a plant group
  • identification softwares: interactive tools combining visual and logical resources.

Identification keys are usually dichotomous. There are called as such as they are constructed in paired statements or questions, of equal importance or opposed, forcing logical deduction, thus orienting following questions.

Before identifying a tree, we should however observe and take note of one or many of the following characteristics:

  • Its habitat: Does the tree lives in a forest, in a garden?
  • Its growth form: its shape, its mode of growth
  • Its parts: bark, twigs position, inflorescences and flowers, leaves, fruits, etc.
  • The blooming and fruiting seasons

Identification keys

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