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Using a Dichotomous Key to Identify Common Florida

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					       Using a Dichotomous Key to Identify Common Florida Plants
Introduction: Florida has a wide variety of plant and animal life. Many species are hard to find because they are
small, relatively hidden, or confined to very small areas of the state. However, the woody plants, trees and shrubs
are usually conspicuous and several species are so widespread that most Floridians have an opportunity to
encounter them often. The 14 plants described in this activity are just such species. Some, such as the mangroves,
are restricted to coastal areas, but others, such as the sabal palm and palmetto, are found throughout the state.

Use the dichotomous key below to identify the plants on the worksheet. Write the names of the plants on your
own paper.

DICHOTOMOUS KEY TO PLANT DRAWINGS

1A. Leaves large, fanlike………………………………………..………………………………..………2
1B. Leaves not as above……………………………………..……………………….……………..……..3

2A. Leaves fanlike with distinct V-shaped structure from which
    the blade extends; plant grows as a tree in many parts of
    Florida………………………………………………..………………..………..…..SABAL PALM
2B. Fanlike leaf blade radiates from a flat point at the end of the
    petiole…………………………………………..…………………..…………SAW PALMETTO

3A. Leaves needlelike……………………………………………………………………...………………4
3B. Leaves not needlelike………………………………………….…………………………………….5

4A. Needlelike leaves; bundled together in groups of two or
     more; fruit is a cone; tree widespread in state…………….SLASH PINE
4B. Needlelike leaves short and soft; plant produces distinctive
    root structures called knees; grows in wet areas….BALD CYPRESS

5A. Leaves distinctly lobed……………………………………………………………………………6
5B. Leaves not lobed, although margin may be toothed (serrate)…………8

6A. Lobes very deep, extending almost to midrib; leaf obviously
    longer than wide………………………………………………….…………..TURKEY OAK
6B. Leaves not deeply lobed; leaf as wide as long………………………………………7

7A. Leaves with 3 prominent lobes: winged fruit, leaf petioles
    reddish…………………………………………………………………..……………..RED MAPLE
7B. Leaves with 5 prominent lobes; fruit ball-like with sharp
    spike-like projections……………………………………………..……..SWEET GUM
8A. Leaf margins serrate (toothed)…………………………………………………………….9
8B. Leaf margins smooth……………………………………………….…………………………….11
9A. Fruit consists of berries………………………………………………………………………….10
9B. Fruit not berry like………………………………………..………….AMERICAN ELM

10A. Leaves with large sharp-pointed serrations, wide and singular;
     berry like fruit………………………………………………..…..AMERICAN HOLLY
10B. Leaves only slightly serrated, long, narrow in groups of 2-3;
     fruit consists of waxy berries……………………..………..…..WAX MYRTLE

11A. Leaves broad, at least as wide as ½ the length………………….………………12
11B. Leaves narrow, with distinctly elongate appearance…….….…………….13

12A. Leaves oval shaped; flowers large, white, and showy; fruit
     cone shaped with red berries………………………………………….MAGNOLIA
12B. Leaves round; grapelike fruit; thick waxy stems…….....SEA GRAPE

13A. Leaves waxy, leaf veins only slightly visible; seeds germinate
     while still on tree and grow into pencil-like structures
     bBefore they fall off; prop roots grow from stems downward
      into mud; tree grows in coastal swamp forests in southern
      Florida……………………………………………………………………..RED MANGROVE
13B. Leaves and fruit not as above; tree grows in coastal
     swamp in southern Florida; short erect “air roots;
     project up through the mud in a circular area surrounding
     tree……………………………………………………………..………BLACK MAN GROVE

				
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posted:8/18/2011
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