The first step in identifying a wild flower or garden flower is to establish which family it belongs to. On this website 42 Flowering Plant families are listed. Wild flower Guide books typically illustrate up to 2000 species but in the recently-published book ‘Flowers’ we included 253 garden plants and 171 wild flowers in the 42 families – on average 10 plants per family. So if you can work out what plant the family is in it saves a lot of time thumbing through guide books.
To identify the family, there are 3 keys to use.
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?