Trying to identify a woody plant?

Whether you are plantoholic like me, have a recent interest in plants or are a newbie to the whole plant thing, sometimes you run across a plant that catches your interest and you want to know what it is. There is a new resource available online at The Oregon State University (OSU) Horticulture Department and the OSU Master Gardeners have teamed up to produce a fantastic image database of landscape plants. Each species contains as many as a dozen images of that tree in winter profile, spring flower or fall color if applicable, and even close-ups of buds, leaves, twigs and fruit.

This site contains images and information on over 1,700 landscape plants (mostly woody) listed in alphabetical order by genus (scientific name), from Abelia to Zelkova. Or, you can search the common name list. Because of the large number of plant entries, the site is divided into four “sub-sites” or “volumes.” Volumes 1, 2 and 3 cover a separate portion of the alphabetical plant list. Volume 4 covers 75 herbaceous annuals or perennials.

To a novice knowing the genus of a plant seems daunting, but this database has a section called woody plant identification system. Clicking  this link allows you to check the characteristics of the plant that you can easily identify. Is it a tree? You go down the list noting the features you know. If a word used as an identifier needs clarification, you can scroll over it and the definition and a picture are shown. You don’t need a lot of factors to reveal a list of plants. Hit search and a list comes up. As you scroll over each item in the list, a picture comes up. You can then click on the link to see the plant in various stages with close-ups of leaves and overall shape, for example. It will also tell you what climate zone the plant grows in and provides a link to the climate zone map too. It is so easy and user friendly.

This could be a tool for someone developing a new landscape, refurbishing an existing landscape or simply looking for a new tree or shrub to add. To start, you know you want a tree. Check the growing color of leaves and flowers you want. Click submit and up pops potential candidates. Check the growing conditions and climate and you have your tree.

Thanks to Susan Stead, Nevada Division of Forestry for sharing this resource.