Question: What is a Dichotomous Tree Key?
A dichotomous tree key is one of the most helpful tools a dendrologist, forester
, botanist, student or interested amateur can use to identify or key out a tree. I have created a very simple tree leaf key
for students and the beginning leaf collector.
Dichotomous tree keys can use leaves, twigs, flowering parts
and other tree characteristics to narrow down an unknown tree using tree part
s to a final classification. Some tree keys use terms that are a bit technical and a tree key glossary
is usually included to define terms mentioned in the tree key.
Most tree keys are "dichotomous". That simply means "divided into two parts". Dichotomous tree keys give two choices and the user determines the best choice in each step. These series of choices then lead the user to the correct name of a given tree. Dichotomous keys have been developed to determine the identity of items in the natural world, such as trees, wildflowers, mammals, reptiles, rocks, and fish.