Recognising trees and plants

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With hundreds of species of trees and shrubs found in certain areas, and with several species available in different cultivars produced by specific breeding and/or grafting, it is not easy to identify certain trees or shrubs found in the wild or in landscapes.  However, it is important to identify the specimen, such as when you need to diagnose and handle a problem. The best method involves careful observation of plant characteristics, combined with the use of one or more authoritative resource guides.

Nursery Specimens

When you purchase a plant in a shop, there is usually an identification on it that shows you what it’s called, the species type and conditions of its growth. It is useful to save this plant tag as a reference. If you don’t save the plant tag, the garden centre can still be a good source. If you remember where your tree or bush was bought, take a photograph or a sample of branch or leaf to the store and ask the most knowledgeable staff member. The odds are good that they can identify plants for you.

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Reference book

There are many scientific and authoritative reference books available that can help you identify certain shrubs or bushes. These are often very expensive books, so it is best to consult in a library or arboretum. A reference book will use very technical descriptive language, so you might need to learn a little about how plants are categorized and explained. However, most of these books will offer keys to explain the terminology used and how to recognize the different distinguishing features of trees and shrubs.

Most such books use a process called dichotomous keys, where you systematically look for increasingly specific features, starting with the general shape and size of the whole plant, and proceed to minute features, such as the number of lobes in the leaves or the texture of the skin. Slowly, you narrow the selection to reach a certain species, and maybe even specific cultivars within that species.

Ask a tree surgeon

If you have unidentified trees or plants on your property, you can always seek the advice of a professional tree surgeon who will be able to identify the specimen and help you maintain, care or remove the tree. For more information, consider a Tree Surgeon Bournemouth like kieranboylandtreeservices.com

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Online Resources

A number of online versions of the dichotomous key approach are now available, where the systematic definition of key features gradually narrows you to the identification of the right tree or bush. Most major universities have websites that catalogue various trees and shrubs that grow in the region. With a simple comparison with photos, you can often identify a particular tree or bush. A call or email to the university extension service might be able to identify your tree in a few moments, especially if you have made careful notes and have a photo of your specimen, you can send an email.

 

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