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Flora Search

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You do not need to answer every question, but bear in mind the following points.
  • It is important to read through the full list of choices before choosing one.
  • Read the notes associated with the question.
  • If the plant is unusual in a particular character then less information will be required to identify it (e.g. if it flowers in January).
  • Groups of plants that have similar characteristics require more information to separate them (e.g. Grasses).

What is the name of the plant you are interested in?
If you already know the name of the plant, enter it here. The name can be the Latin name, an English name or a name from another European language.
Do you know what family the plant belongs to?

If you know the family the plant belongs to pick it from the list. For example, roses are all in the Rosaceae.
What habitat does the plant grow in?

If the system is having problems narrowing down the species you are trying to identify, give it a helping hand by entering a habitat. Look through the whole list to find the closest match, before making your choice.
What sort of a plant is it?
  • I do not know
  • Bulb, Tuber or corm
  • Climber
  • Grass, Rush, Sedge or similar
  • Herb
  • Shrub
  • Tree
  • Free floating on water
Most people can recognise a tree when they see one, but recognising shrubs and herbs can be harder. Shrubs are any plant which is too small to be called a tree, but has a woody frame work of branches. Some shrubs can be very small. For example heather, thyme and bilberry could all be described as shrubs by the botanical definition. Herbs do not have a woody framework, though they may have quite tough stems. Herbs will often die down during the winter, to re-emerge in spring with new stems.
Where did you find the plant growing?
  • I do not know
  • England
  • Scotland
  • Wales
  • Ireland
  • Northern Ireland
  • Cornwall
  • Hampshire
  • Warwickshire
  • Hull
  • Northumberland
  • Norfolk
Unless you have a good reason for suspecting the plant does not normally grow in the area in which you found it, enter either the country or county you found it in.
Do you think the plant might be a fern?
  • I do not know
  • Yes
  • No
Do you think that the plant is a fern, or another spore producing plant like a clubmoss or horsetail?
What month does the plant flower in?

Choose the month of peak flowering if you know it. If the plant you have found has just started or just finished flowering, then it might be more appropriate to pick the next or previous month.
What colour is the flower?

Although this seems like an obvious question, make sure you take a good look at a flower before deciding on its colour. Remember that grasses, sedges and rushes also have a wide variety of flower colours, even if they are duller than many other plants.
What sort of flower or other kind of reproductive structure does the plant have?
  • Actinomorphic flowers are plate, cup or bell shaped like Water Lilies, Poppies and Daffodils. When facing the flower, they can be seen to have more than one plane of symmetry. Zygomorphic flowers such as Orchids, Eyebrights and Violets have only one plane of symmetry, like a face. Some flowers fall between actinomorphic and zygomorphic for example Speedwells have 4 petals of roughly the same shape, nevertheless, the upper petal is slightly larger than the lower and so it is slightly zygomorphic.
  • Spikelets are the small flowers of Grasses, Rushes and Sedges. They have no petals, but small scale-like parts.
  • Sori Are the spore producing organs of ferns, frequently found on the underside of the leaves.
  • Cones are familiar to most people from conifers, however, they can also be found on Clubmosses and Horsetails.
  • Catkins are specialised flowers for wind pollination, found on some trees and shrubs. They are usually either male or female and can be either pendulous or erect. Although, they do not have colourful petals the male flowers are often bright yellow from the numerous anthers.
  • Compound flowers are those where numerous small flowers are tightly grouped together to form a head. This form of flower is found in families such as the Asteraceae and Dipsacaceae.
  • Flowers that are described as solitary and without perianth have no petals or sepals and are therefore quite inconspicuous. They may be single sex flowers or bisexual. In either case the only parts to the flower are the male and female sex organs.
How are the leaves arranged on the stem?
  • I do not know
  • Alternate or spiralling along the stem
  • Emerging directly from an underground rhizome
  • In a rosette
  • Leaves borne in groups of 2 or more on short shoots
  • Opposite
  • The whole plant in a leaf-like thallus
  • Whorls of leaves along the stem
The most common form of leaf arrangement is when single leaves are arranged either spirally or on alternate sides, along the stem. Leaves can also be held in opposite pairs or in groups of three or more, in which case they are referred to as whorled. Rosette plants and plants with leaves emerging from underground have little to no stem. Leaves of rosette plants are produced at ground level whereas leaves emerging from underground are usually produced from a creeping rhizome. An unusual leaf arrangement is where leaves borne in groups of 2 or more on short shoots. This form of leaf is found on certain types of conifer. Some plants such as Duckweed (Lemna) have no true leaves, but the whole plant is reduced to a small green disc or thallus.
Are the leaves hairy?
  • I do not know
  • hairless
  • hairy
  • slightly hairy
Look closely on both sides of the leaf for hairs. Sometimes the hairs are hard to see and a hand lens should be used to look for them.
What sort of leaves does the plant have?
  • I do not know
  • cut
  • divided
  • leafless
  • linear
  • reduced to scales
  • simple (but not linear)
  • Cut leaves are those in which the blade is separated into lobes by slits, as if the leaf had been cut with scissors. An example of a plant with cut leaves is Geranium pratense.
  • Divided leaves are split into separate leaflets, for example Conium maculatum. Also included in this group are trifoliate leaves such as clover (Trifolium repens).
  • Leafless plants generally have green stems which replace the need for leaves.
  • Linear leaves are long and narrow. A rough rule of thumb is that if the leaf is more than 10 times longer than it is wide then it is described as linear.
  • Parasitic plants without chlorophyll do not have need for leaves. The remains of the vestigial leaves are reduced to scales. Also a few green stemmed plants have leaves reduced to scales
  • Simple leaves have a simple blade which may have lobes or teeth, but is not divided into separate leaflets.
If the plant has more than one sort of leaf, choose the most common type.
What are the margins of the leaf like?
  • The margins of leaves are described as entire when they are smooth and uninterrupted by either teeth or lobes.
  • Lobes can be shallow or almost dividing the leaf into separate leaflets. Lobes can have either rounded or pointed ends. They may have entire or toothed margins. In the latter case pick the toothed & lobed option.
  • Revolute leaf margins are those where the edge is rolled under the leaf blade
What is the length of the leaf blade?
This is the length (cm) of the leaf from the tip of the blade to where the blade joins the stalk. Divided leafs are measured from their tip to the first branch/leaflet on the stalk.
Do the leaves have stipules?
  • I do not know
  • Yes
  • No
Stipules are usually small, frequently leaf-like projections from either side of the base of the leaf stalk.
Do the leaves have petioles?
  • I do not know
  • Yes
  • No
A petiole is the botanical name for a stalk. Some leaves come directly out from the stem without a distinct stalk. Be careful as sometime the stalk can be quite small.