Botanical identification keys have been constructed in different ways over the years, the first and most sustaining is the dichotomous key. Dichotomous keys are designed to offer the user two alternative, presumably mutually exclusive, choices at each step allowing the user to eventually eliminate other possibilities and arrive at the correct identification. This kind of identification key can work very well, but is often highly technical, relying upon features that may not be easy to see and is usually not illustrated. So-called multiple-entry keys are more time-consuming to prepare, but allow the user to enter whatever features are readily available when attempting to identify a specimen and they can more easily accommodate illustrations. Interactive identification programs, now available in several forms, often go a step further in allowing the user to enter a set of features, eliminate some number of possibilities, and then query the program about the next most useful features for distinguishing among the remaining species.

We will be developing a series of interactive identification keys for bamboos as part of the Bamboo Phylogeny Project. A major goal by the end of the project is to prepare an interactive key for all the recognized genera of bamboos, but in the meantime, we will make available other types of interactive keys as they are developed. They will be listed below with a brief explanation of the taxonomic or geographic coverage of the key. Each key will also include a page for each species with some descriptive information or illustrations or both.

Available Keys

Woody bamboo genera of Venezuela - This key allows the user to discriminate the native and introduced woody bamboo genera occurring in Venezuela. Note that the observation of some features may be facilitated by the use of a 10X handlens.

The Species of Chusquea subgenus Rettbergia in Brazil - The Neotropical woody bamboo genus Chusquea is currently divided into three major groups (subgenera): Chusquea subgenus Rettbergia, Chusquea subgenus Chusquea, and Chusquea subgenus Swallenochloa. Chusquea subgenus Rettbergia includes approximately 12 species, of which 10 occur in the Atlantic forest habitat of southeastern Brazil, where they are often an important component of the vegetation. Chusquea subgenus Rettbergia is characterized by the presence of dome-shaped central buds, leafy branches often strongly bent at the lower nodes, and fertile spikelet bracts (lemmas) with the sides of the tips fused to each other. Note that the observation of some features (e.g., hairiness of the leaf undersurface) may be facilitated by the use of a 10X handlens.

Native and Naturalized Bamboos in the USA - A working draft of the woody species in the US.

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