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Biology LibreTexts

Part 3: Using a Dichotomous Key to Identify Trees

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  • In this section, a dichotomous key will be used to identify tree species based on samples provided by your instructor. Refer to the guide that follows should any terms about the characteristics used to distinguish among trees be unfamiliar.


    • Tree samples

    • Dichotomous key

    Tree Characteristics—Terminology Guide (via Clemson Extension Office Bulletin 117)

    • Petiole — stalk of a leaf
    • Leaflet—individual blade of a compound leaf
    • Apex — the tip or distal end of a leaf
    • Sinus — the space or indentation between the lobes of a leaf blade
    • Compound leaf — a type of leaf that has three or more leaflets attached to a common stalk
      • Palmately compound — veins or lobes of a leaf radiating from a centralpoint
      • Pinnately compound — arrangement of leaflets attached laterally along the middle of a compound leaf
    • Leaf Arrangement
      • Opposite — leaves occurring in pairs at thenodes
      • Alternate — leaves arranged singly at intervals along thestems
    • Leaf Margins (outer edge of a leaf blade)


    • Leaf Bases