||The Fronds Project
How to Use a Key to Classify Plants
Many scientists rely on a "key" to help them classify the leaf
or the plant which they observe. A key poses one question at a time. The
answer to the question is paired with instructions to go another specific
question until the scientist arrives at the plant name.
Oregon State gives a good example of using a key to classify conifers of the Pacific Northwest. Of course, if you don't live in the Pacfic Northwest, their key may not be quite so helpful. If you work with students in grades K - 3 you may wish to use the simplified key created for this project.
Activity: Collect a leaf from
one of the dominant trees in your area. After you have carefully observed
your leaf click on the Arbor Day Foundation link for your area and see
if you can use a key to classify the tree (You may want to use a known
tree the first time).
If you live outside the United States you'll need to find a Tree Classification for your area or you can buy a Field Guide for your region.
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Copyright © 2011 Brandon Thacker