A new website, Australian Plant Families Recognition has been developed by Geoff Burrows, Senior Lecturer from Charles Sturt University. The website (go to: http://www.csu.edu.au/herbarium/ and click on ‘Australian Plant Family Recognition’) features an illustrated tutorial and 5 interactive tests consisting of 20 images each. The tests feature high quality images and optional hints to the main features of the flowers.
The ability to recognise plant families ‘on sight’ is a very useful skill. Its advantages include:
*If an unknown specimen is encountered when identifying plants for a species list, biodiversity survey, quadrat assessment, etc. it is more efficient to start keying out at a known family rather than starting at the very start of a key.
*In illustrated floras it significantly reduces the number of images that need to be examined and thus markedly improves the efficiency of identification.
*Environmental science, agronomy or horticulture students can work more efficiently in most parts of Australia (e.g. east coast, south west corner, tropical savannas) and also overseas, as several of the largest plant families are cosmopolitan in their distribution.
*Leisure activities such as bushwalking/gardening can be more rewarding as ‘you’ are actually observing more.
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