Online keys and image galleries

Links to online plant identification resources developed by the herbarium and associated researchers are provided below. Because accurate plant identification is frequently a basic need in a variety of disciplines and endeavors, we serve a varied clientele, from agency biologists and environmental consultants to academic researchers, from agricultural and horticultural professionals to students and the general public. Consequently, we have developed a variety of resources to help meet the needs of our diverse cliente in training and addressing current and on-going issues. We have traditionally provided these resources for pdf or web delivery, but more recently have begun to develop for mobile platforms, as well.

Featured resources

The Botanist's Little Helper
   In this web app, we seek to provide, in one convenient mobile-adapative site, access to the various plant identification web apps and resources that have been developed or contributed to by NCSC over the past few years. Whether you are new to learning plants or an old field sage, whether something unfamiliar stops you in your tracks or memory fails, we hope you'll find some use in our "little helper".

Trees of North Carolina (in BETA)
   This work treats the native and naturalized species of trees occurring in North Carolina. We strive to include images of bark, twigs, leaves, reproductive organs, and distribution maps for all species within our scope. We recognize that, at present, our task is not complete and users will find a number of taxa without a full complement of images. Thus, the work presented at this time is admittedly incomplete. However, given that the keys are complete, we hope that users will find it nonetheless useful and bear with us as we fill in photographic gaps over time. The work is mobile responsive, but due to some large images, may at times load slowly on some mobile units. Constructive feedback is always appreciated.

Rare plants of North Carolina: Federally listed species and their congeners
   This resource is designed for environmental professionals and agency biologists. It treats all federally listed plant species (and the single listed lichen) of North Carolina and their congeners. The dichotomous keys provided are heavily illustrated and may be expanded or collapsed to reveal or hide additional content such as images, illustrations, maps, rarity status, and habitat descriptions. The tool is optimized for delivery on most major browsers, whether mobile or desktop.

Common ferns of North Carolina
   This resource is designed for anyone interested in learning to recognize the common ferns of our state. The tool is highly visual, facilitating identification through illustrated keys, as well as browsing by image or name. Notes are provided to focus new learners on particularly helpful aspects of morphology. The tool is optimized for delivery on most major browsers, whether mobile or desktop.

Rushes of the Carolinas
   This resource is designed for anyone interested in learning to recognize rushes in the Carolinas. Rushes are represented by three genera in the area: Juncus, Luzula, and Oreojuncus. The tool is highly visual, facilitating identification primarily through black-and-white line drawings with taxa grouped by shared morphological features. The tool is optimized for delivery on most major browsers, whether mobile or desktop.

Wanted alive: Raven's seedbox (Ludwigia ravenii)
   This resource is designed to aid at-risk field surveys for one of the rarest plant species in North Carolina, Raven's seedbox (Ludwigia ravenii). The resource is designed for users with advanced field botany skills, including environmental consultants and agency botanists. Field identification is facilitated through a dynamic key, including numerous illustrations of the target species and congeners. The tool is optimized for delivery on most major browsers, whether mobile or desktop.

Citrus ID
   This tool is designed to support the identification of host material during citrus pest and disease surveys by industry and government agency personnel. Host identification is facilitated through an illustrated matrix-based key. Users may start with any vegetative or reproductive character. A comprehensive image gallery is included and is searchable by morphological feature, offering users and image-based identification option. Android and iOS versions are freely available for download from Google Play or iTunes by clicking on the respective icon above.

Pitcher perfect! Identifying pitcher plants in North Carolina
   This resource was designed for use by anyone with an interest in pitcher plants (Sarracenia spp.) and wishing to identify the taxa found in North Carolina. The tool is optimized for delivery on most major browsers, whether mobile or desktop. Happy botanizing!

Plants poisonous to livestock and pets in North Carolina
   This web app is an online version of NC ARS Bulletin No. 414 (revised) by J.W. Hardin and C.F. Brownie. The tool is optimized for delivery on most major browsers, whether mobile or desktop.

Winter twig keys to common, native, fully deciduous trees and phanerophyte shrubs of the North Carolina eastern Piedmont
   This resource was designed primarily for use in one of our departmental undergraduate courses, but is made available here for anyone interested in learning how to identify common trees of our area in winter. The tool is optimized for delivery on most major browsers, whether mobile or desktop.

Container nursery weeds of the United States
   An efficient control program begins with the correct identification of the weeds present, along with an understanding of their life cycles and modes of reproduction and spread. Treated here are the most common weeds of outdoor container nurseries, as well as a selection of recently introduced species with the potential to spread. This work is based in large part on Weeds of Container Nurseries (Neal & Derr 2005), but builds on that treatment through the addition of multi-access keys, taxa, and images. The content is optimized for mobile use and should be accessible from standard browsers on nearly any device, whether desktop, tablet, or smartphone.

Teaching tools

Image Sort Visual Learning
   Research in cognitive psychology over the past decades has established that domain experts recognize features and patterns not observed by novices. This understanding has important ramifications for teaching. Studies have shown the importance of developing experiences designed to enhance student recognition of meaningful patterns of information. Classroom or homework activities that mimic exposure to variation in the wild can play an important role in developing expertise. These can even be necessary in cases where field labs are not possible, or where natural variation is not easily demonstrable given time constraints. To facilitate the development of such activities, we here present a freely available, open-access, html/javascript-based visual learning tool that facilitates recognition through active image sorting exercises. Although our exercises are drawn from our own domain expertise (botany), the tool is customizable to meet the needs of any activity for which sorting can enhance learning.

Extension Gardener - Botany exercises
This site was designed to support the NC State Extension Master Gardener training program. It provides a series of visual learning exercises to reinforce the plant morphology aspect of the program (Chapter 3 in the NC Extension Gardener Handbook).

Additional resources

Wetland plants of the Carolinas
Common woody wetland plants
Key to wetland vines

Piedmont plants

Raleigh area tree bark identification
Winter twig key to eastern Piedmont trees and shrubs

Coastal Plain plants

Key to the vines of Nags Head Woods (Dare Co.)
Key to the trees and shrubs of Nags Head Woods (Dare Co.)


Key to select Fagaceae
Key to select Gymnosperms