The first step in identifying a wild flower or garden flower is to establish which family it belongs to.  A family is defined as a group of plants that taxonomists believe have evolved from a common ancestor and resemble one another in appearance or technical characteristics. This means that individual  members of the family will have the same number of petals, stamens, flower shape and arrangement on the plant. This is the basis for the simple flower key presented here. 

 Worldwide there are over 400 flowering plant families, containing nearly 370,000 species but a subset of  42 of these families contains many of the garden and wild flowers found in Britain. To see how these 42 families are arranged in an evolutionary order click HEREFor 30 of these families click HERE for a description of the family and see images of typical members of the family. 

To use any flower key you need to be able to recognise the parts of a flower shown in this photo. For more information on flower parts click HERE. For more information on how flowers are arranged on the plant in the form of an inflorescence click  HERE 

Flower identification by family based on 3 keys. Click on the buttons  below the 3 photos to go to the family identification keys. 


A. Petals and Stamens – Examine the number of petals in each flower.  Monocots (8 families) all have flowers with 6 ‘petal-like’ tepals.   Eudicot families have flowers with 0,3, 4, 5, 6 or more petals. For  4 or 5 petal families examine the number of stamens inside the flower.

B. Corolla and Sepals –  Check  the corolla to see if it is made up of ‘free’ petals or ‘fused’ petals and then  see what shape it is.  There are 5 ‘free’ petal shapes and 8 ‘fused’ petal shapes in this key. Then look at the sepals to see if they are fused into a calyx tube. 

C. Inflorescence – Check the overall arrangement of the flowers on the plant. Are the flowers solitary or are they clustered into one of the 8 inflorescences listed by the Key?