Vascular Plants of the Gorge at Buttermilk Falls State Park (Ithaca, NY)

** Plant Finder **



Species Descriptions

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How to Use Plant Finder

     It is recommended that first-time users of Plant Finder read the following before continuing.

     Over 385 vascular plant species have been found along the gorge and rim trails at Buttermilk Falls State Park (BFSP).  These include trees, shrubs, ferns, woody vines, grasses, sedges and herbaceous, broad-leaved flowering species (i.e., "wildflowers"). All of them are included in this Plant Finder utility. The vast majority of them are common species, which you may find in many other locations. (You can use Plant Finder to identify plants that you find elsewhere.)

     Plant Finder is intended primarily for amateurs, and is designed accordingly. Experts already know this material and don't absolutely need to use Plant Finder, though  they are certainly welcome to do so. Those requiring a traditional paper document, ordered by plant family, genera and species, using scientific names, including authors, can download a printable checklist here.

     This is not a traditional key. It does not strictly consist of a series of consecutive, either/or choices that lead the user to a single, correct, logical answer. Instead, the user may sometimes be presented with a set of three or more choices, represented by photographs of plants, from which the user must select one, which leads either to the next question or to the final choice.

     Your search will begin by selecting a plant type from among six broad choices:  trees, shrubs, ferns, woody vines, graminoids (grasses, sedges, etc.) and herbaceous wildflowers. At the top of the decision tree for each plant type is a brief introduction, including definitions and other information you may need in order to continue successfully through the series of decisions. It is recommended that first-time users read each introduction before proceeding.

     Plant Finder is heavily based on photographs instead of detailed textual descriptions. Many people who do not have advanced scientific training, or extensive practical experience in field observation, prefer not to search in a lexicon for the meanings of multiple technical terms. They want a quick answer based on visual representations, such as a photographs or drawings. Plant Finder will hopefully provide a useful alternative.

     If we do use a technical term, we will provide you with a definition and possibly an image or two.  All technical terms will be linked to a page in an interactive glossary.  For example, click on this link to find the definition for the term "staminate" .

     You will be clicking on pictures of plants to advance through Plant Finder via a series of decisions. A picture may either take you to the next decision point, or it may take you to a description page for a particular species. If a picture takes you to another decision point, that picture may represent multiple different species, some of which may not look similar to the one in the picture. Just keep following the links until you reach the page for the species you've found.

Et cetera

      Non-woody vines (e.g., hog peanut) and subshrubs (e.g. trailing arbutus) are grouped together with "wildflowers" in Plant Finder.

     Many species exhibit variable characteristics. Some, like dame's rocket, can have either white or pink flowers. Those species will be represented in Plant Finder twice, once for each flower color.

     On the individual species detail pages for the trees, you will find a link to "Find in Key". This feature allows you to jump from the current page to the page in Plant Finder on which that species appears. You can use that feature either to return to the last-visited species detail page, or to discover whether you followed an incorrect path in the key. One caveat; namely, a few species have highly variable leaves. Depending on the logic of the Plant Finder, you may correctly identify the species, using two different paths. For example, Cottonwood (Populus deltoides) leaves may appear heart-shaped (cordate) or triangle-shaped (deltoid). But, use of this special feature will only take you to one of multiple, correct key pages.

Images and text copyright  Arieh Tal, 2017 - 2022.  All rights reserved. ( Terms of Use )