Plant Identification Game Using an Online
Interactive Dichotomous Key
By looking at characteristics of a plant or animal and using a
dichotomous key, you can identify most living things to the species.
In this situation the term "dichotomous" means to divide
into two groups that are not alike and most dichotomous keys work
by using the individuals characteristics to place the organism into
smaller and smaller groups until it can be identified to the species.
Dichotomous keys usually include only certain groups of organisms,
like trees or butterflies. The usefulness of a key is only as good
as the author's purpose. Some keys are intended to cover only the
most common species, while others are very comprehensive and require
extensive knowledge of biology or botany.
This game is intended to introduce you to how a dichotomous key
is used. It was created with only a few of the many trees and shrubs
that grow in the hardwood hammocks of the Florida Keys and uses
characteristics that do not require you to have a PhD. in botany.
How to play:
To begin, choose one of the plant buttons below to open a photo
in a new window. Use this enlarged image of the leaves to look for
the characteristics used in the key. The key has numbered answers,
and selecting an answer will take you to the next level by clicking
on it. Here is an example:
The organism is red
The organism is not red
Lets say the organism is not red, I would click on the "
" link and go to the next level of the key. When you come to
an end, you will be informed of whether you successfully identified
the plant or that you had made a wrong choice somewhere. If you
successfully identified the plant, then a description of the plant
will be displayed; otherwise, you will be given the opportunity
to replay the game from the beginning.
Home Button: This button will bring you
back to the Activity Introduction.
Help feature: Below the question is a lighthouse
button. Use it whenever you are unable to decide which level
to go to next.
Photo Credit: Hammock photo this page- W. Fitch. All other photos-
Photo Size = max. 150 kb
Nelson, Gil, 1994. The Trees of Florida. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple
Scurlock, Paul J.,1987. Native Trees and Shrubs of the Florida
Keys. Pittsburgh, PA: Laurel Press
Stevenson, George B., 1969. Tress of the Everglades National Park
and the Florida Keys. Miami, FL: Banyan Books, Inc.