Knowing what a plant is or being able to identify a plant is important because you are then able to identify other characteristics of the plant. For example, some characteristics that you might be interested in knowing are whether or not you can cultivate the plant, or if it is edible or poisonous.
Down the line, knowing the identity of a plant could even help you decide whether or not to purchase one in the future.
Ways of Identifying Plants
There are several methods for identifying different kinds of plants. One of the easiest and most obvious ways is by the flowers. Sometimes the look of the flower alone will indicate the plant.
More often, the same parts used for identifying the sex of the plant are used for identification. This is because these parts are often used for the original classification of a plant. Knowing this type of information about a plant is helpful because it can often tell you even more about its type and how it grows.
The problem with this method is twofold. First, not every plant flowers, and of those that do, they will not always be in bloom when you wish to identify them. Additionally, this type of knowledge is usually learned in a botany course that takes many hours.
You can also use stalks or stems, buds, and root systems to identify; however, these can also be problematic. Stalks and stems have so many similarities that they are much harder to tell apart on smaller plants of the same family. Buds are not always present on a plant when you may be examining it. Root systems are hard, if not impossible, to access on most plants without causing damage to the overall plant.
One of the best and easiest ways to identify plants is by their leaves. You will be able to do this regardless of the sex of the plant ad whether or not it is in bloom. It also works on most types of plants fairly easily.
How Do I Identify a Plant From a Leaf?
Whether you identify garden plant leaves or vegetable plant leaves, the tool you decide to use will make the job a lot easier.
To start, a good basic knowledge of plants is helpful. The more plants you already know, the faster you can identify them. However, you don’t need to know any plants to start. Everyone must begin to build their knowledge of plants somewhere! Not to mention, very few people know the majority of plant species, even regionally, as they are very diverse.
Some plant identification methods are actually tools that make identifying a plant much easier. Here are some of the tools that you can use to help you when identifying plant leaves:
Plant Identification Database: Several free and reputable websites provide you with a full database of pictures and information to help in plant identification. This allows you to identify a plant by a leaf picture.
Plant Identification Key: You will find that many academic books and regional field guides may have plant identification keys. Regional books and guides may be particularly helpful when identifying a plant that you haven’t seen before. Like the above method, this relies on you making the plant identification by photo.
Plant Identifier App: If you are looking for a really easy way to start identifying plants by their leaves right now, your best choice will be to use an app to identify them. If you are looking for a free plant identifier, the most reputable one you will find is from the Smithsonian Institute.
Plant Identification for Home Gardeners
Plant identification can be serious business for the home gardener because good gardening starts with good plant management, and plant management is impossible without knowing what kind of plants you are dealing with. That is why it’s a good idea for rookie gardeners to start out with just one or two types of plants, dedicate a bed to each kind of plant, or use signage to mark the plants clearly.
Of course, when you purchase a plant originally, it is clearly marked or should be, so you know what you are getting. This will tell you where to place the plant and how to care for it. It may even tell you what else you should be comfortable planting around your new plant.
Often, the first need for plant identification for home gardeners comes when they either can not remember which plant they put where in the garden or their signage has blown away or otherwise disappeared.
Another common situation has to do with weeding and upkeep, especially when moving into a new home. You may run across a plant that you have not seen before when weeding; maybe it has a pretty flower, or you suspect it is more than a weed. Again, plant identification will help you figure it out, and can really matter if you need to shop for soil and clay.
You may also want to know what a new plant is if you happen to inherit it or have it gifted to you. In this case, you will want to know what you already have before you shop for houseplants in an online store and choose something that needs a very different environment or simply just wouldn’t mesh well with your new addition.
Enhance Your Knowledge of Nature
Identifying plants by their leaves can be difficult and time-consuming. In many cases, you will find it quicker and easier to purchase new houseplants from an online store. In addition, you will know what kind of plant you are getting ahead of time, making caring for it much easier in the long run.
This means you can read up on caring for your new plant. You can even shop for soil and clay when you purchase your new plants to know they will be well cared for and healthy from the very beginning.