Key Largo

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- Nick Tagliareni.
Photo Size = max. 150 kb


Nelson, Gil, 1994. The Trees of Florida. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, Inc.

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.

Choose a plant:

Plant 1
Plant 2
Plant 3
Plant 4
Plant 5

Plant 6
Plant 7
Plant 8

Plant 9
Plant 10

Plant 11

Plant 12

Plant 13
Plant 14

Plant 15

Plant 16
Plant 17

Plant 18

Plant 19

Plant 20

Plant 21
Plant 22
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