After using a dichotomous key and checking a detailed description and illustrations of the species you are working on, you should take a final step to verify your identification. There are several options for this final step: Probably the easiest is to check with your instructor (however in the real world there will not always be an authority available); secondly, you can visit a herbarium to match your specimen with a named specimen in the collection (you should take this step at least once during the semester so you can gain an appreciation for the variability within a given species); and finally, you could consult a "virtual herbarium" maintained by a reputable regional organization that has verified images available on line.
While you are welcome to use the Creso herbarium, please be sure to follow the guidelines as reviewed in class. You are free to use the teaching collection as necessary; but please check with your instructor for help in using the research collection. The images linked to this page should prove helpful in checking your identification and may, in fact, be better than utilizing herbarium sheets. The images on this site are for the most part from Pierce County areas that are utilized for Biology 340 field trips. Plant species from the Central and Eastern Washington field trips have not been included. Most of the descriptions that accompany the images are from Creso 19841 and, unless otherwise indicated, the photographs are by and copyrighted to John Main*.
The images are indexed by family and by species; vernacular names can be found on the individual species page. You will no doubt note that some of the names (binomials) do not correspond to those in your key (Hitchcock and Cronquist 19732); name changes are made based on new information and classifications are necessarily revised. You will find both the currently accepted name and the name used in your key in the species index. The traditional family names allowed by the ICBN are cross listed in parentheses with the newer names e.g., Asteraceae (Compositae), Brassicaceae (Cruciferae), Lamiaceae (Labiatae), etc. The family nomenclature used in your key has also been preserved here, however you should be aware of the variation in family names utilized by other classifications systems, for more information on the subject see USDA - APHIS -- Concordance of Family Names. One example of family level classification change is the Ericaceae family which is broadly circumscribed in your key (with the exception of not including the Empetraceae) but has been in the past and continues in some cases to be split into separate families including the Monotropaceae, Pyrolaceae, and others. Keep in mind however that splitting the family in such a fashion would leave the Ericaceae s.s. paraphyletic.
1Creso, I. 1984. Vascular Plants of Western Washington. Irene Creso, Publisher.
2Hitchcock, C. Leo and Arthur Cronquist. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest, University of Washington Press, Seattle.
* Images may be used for personal or educational purposes with out prior permission. Prior written permission is required for any use where the images are publicly available in any form firstname.lastname@example.org . At this point in time the only other photographer with images represented on this site is Ben Legler and inquiries about or for use of his images should be directed to him email@example.com.
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