What details should I include for plant identification?
Pictures are great, but also include the following details:
Location: where is the plant physically located - details like city, state, and country are important; if you don’t want to say specifically where you live then something like “in the Atlanta area” to give some general idea. Please don’t just say “zone 6” or “my sister’s house”, that is not enough!
Inside plant (house plant) or outside plant?
Garden vs. wild: is this plant growing in a garden or does it seem like someone planted it originally? Is it a wild plant, growing in forest, a nature preserve, on the side of the road? Is the plant in a special environment like a bog or a wetland?
Type of plant: for outside plants, does this seem to be a woody plant like a tree or a shrub or more of an herbaceous plant that will die to the ground come winter? Does it seem like a vine? Have you seen any special characteristics like thorns, fruits or seeds? Look at the back of the leaf - is it colored, hairy or smooth?
Physical characteristics: is it evergreen or deciduous (does it keep it’s leaves or lose them in the winter)? How are the leaves arranged - are they opposite one another or alternate along the stem? If it’s a tree, can you describe the bark? Are the stems hairy or smooth ? What is the size/height of the plant? Do the leaves have a distinctive smell if you rub or crush them?
Flowers: have you ever seen flowers and if so can you describe them? What color, how many petals, are they fragrant, growing in clusters or singly? What time of year does it flower?
Fruit/seeds: have you seen any and can you describe it? Please don’t taste any unknown fruit!