There are over 200,000 identified plant species on the planet. These range from trees that grow in your backyard to the ferns in an old Appalachian forest. In addition, plants are the primary source of food for humans and animals alike. With so many different types of plants, it’s easy to get them confused. If you love nature and spending time outside, you probably have noticed almost as many types of trees as there are leaves on them. Whether you’re interested in becoming a botanist or just want to know what type of tree is growing in your yard, plant identification can be tricky at times. It doesn’t help that most plants also look similar at first glance. However, with a little practice and these tips on how to identify plants easier, you will soon be identifying plants like an expert horticulturist.
Learn What Makes a Plant Unique
The best way to start is by learning about what makes each plant species unique. There are certain visual traits that are consistent for each type of plant and knowing them can help you identify plants faster and more accurately. For example, conifers are all evergreen trees, with needles growing from them instead of leaves. Likewise, deciduous trees lose their leaves during winter and are the majority of tree species in North America. Looking at the shape of a plant can also be helpful. Plants like ferns and mosses have a different growth pattern than other plants and have a very unique shape. You can also look at the color of the leaves on the plant and any flowers or fruits it might have.
Identify the Physical Traits of Your Favorite Plants
Once you have a general idea of the traits that make up different types of plants, try identifying some of your favorite plants. If you love trees, try identifying a few different kinds of trees in your neighborhood. By looking at a wide variety of plants, you will learn how to more quickly identify plants and notice the subtle differences between plant types. By identifying a few of your favorite plants, it becomes easier to apply those traits to plants you don’t know and thus be able to identify them.
Use an Expert Identification Guide
For even more accuracy, you can use an identification guide to properly identify plants. There are many identification guides for various regions of the world, so you will want to find specific to your region. There are also many online guides that can help you identify plants. These usually include pictures of different plants and detailed descriptions of their traits. By looking at a wide variety of different plants, you can learn how to more quickly identify plants and notice the subtle differences between plant types.
Practice By Identifying Familiar Plants
Once you can identify your favorite and most common plants, try branching out to some of the less familiar plants in your area. As you learn to identify one or two types of plants each season, it becomes easier to identify all plants, even those you have never seen before. Since all plants have unique characteristics, the more you learn, the easier it becomes to identify new plants. By the end of each season, you will have a wide range of plants that you can easily identify.
Finding a Professional to Help
If you are still struggling to identify plants, consider hiring a professional to help. There are professional horticulturists who can help identify plants. These professionals spend their time outside and are more familiar with plants than the average person. For a small fee, you can get the help you need to properly identify the plants in your area. These professionals can identify the most common plants and even some of the less common ones as well.
Plants are an important part of the ecosystem and your life. By learning how to identify plants, you will be able to better appreciate the amazing plants all around you. By learning what makes a plant unique and applying those traits to other plants, you can more quickly and accurately identify plants. With practice, you can easily identify any plant in your area. By learning how to identify plants, you will be able to better enjoy the outdoors and appreciate nature even more.