How to Identify Garden Plants From Foliage

Written by tracy morris
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When you stroll through a garden centre, you will usually find that most of the plants have been labelled and grouped on shelves according to their classification. However, if a plant is mis-shelved or missing its label, it can be difficult to determine what the plant might be. One indication of a plant's identity is its foliage.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Plant guidebook
  • Pencil and paper
  • Digital camera
  • Computer with Internet access

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  1. 1

    Examine the plant carefully. Note the shape of the leaf, the colour, the vein structure and any unusual characteristics, such as variegated (striped) colouring.

  2. 2

    Write down the characteristics on paper, and draw a sketch of the leaves. This can help solidify the description in your mind.

  3. 3

    Consult a plant guidebook to help locate the possible plant species and family. Many guidebooks give general plant descriptions. If your plant has leaves that are similar to a plant pictured in the guidebook, you may have a hybrid of that plant.

  4. 4

    Take a digital photo of the plant's leaves. Digital pictures are useful for posting on web forums or e-mailing to experts for quick identification. Consult online identification websites or web forums designed to help identify plant species.

  5. 5

    Call your local County Extension office of the USDA or your local land grant college. These offices typically are staffed with agents trained to identify plants.

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