ID Keys

Guide for Using the Key

ID Key was developed  for common plant families using LUCID builder 3.3.  It contains feature descriptors describing plant families when a family identification is needed for an unknown seed or fruit.

Unlike the traditional dichotomous key, this character-driven tool allows the user to choose which descriptive features best fit the seed or fruit in hand. This aids in determining the family of the unknown seed or fruit.

Each family has a number of identification features programmed into the ID key. If a seed feature is selected that does NOT occur in a particular family, the program will eliminate it from the possibilities. The user will see the number of potential families decrease and the eliminated families increase as they work through the ID key.

Go to the Key

When you enter ID Key, the screen displays as 4 panes. The user can interact with each pane in different ways.

Features Available Window

The top left pane is the main working pane, where the user will select each feature that best describes the seed in hand. More than one feature can be selected in a category, or none, and in any order.

Entities Remaining Window

The top right pane displays seed families that match the selected features.

Features Chosen Window

The bottom left pane shows the features that have been selected.

Entities Discarded Window

The bottom right pane displays the families eliminated based on feature choices.
Go to the Key

Selecting Shape:

When selecting shape, there may be more than one shape matching the seed in question that can be selected. The shape that best describes a seed is selected by clicking on the picture or name.

Selecting Colour:

Seed colour is the dominant colour of the seed surface. The colour pattern of a seed can be described as solid, mottled and/or streaked (e.g. many Centaurea spp.), or iridescent (multi-coloured reflection), while the transparency can be opaque or translucent (light can be seen shining through the seed).

Selecting Surface Features:

This category has 2 parts: surface quality and surface structures. Surface quality is described as either a shiny or dull seed surface. It may be difficult to determine on seeds without a smooth surface, and can be left unselected.

There are many surface structures available and more than one can be selected. Note that ‘Smooth’ can be selected if there are no obvious structures visible. Only record those structures that can be seen under low to medium magnification.

Selecting Hilum/ Attachment scar:

This category describes the appearance and location of the hilum, if a seed, and attachment scar, if a fruit. Common characters are listed with pictures that illustrate them. Note that  ‘Not visible’ can be selected if the hilum or attachment scar is indistinct.

Selecting Size:

The size feature has several ranges in millimeters for the length or diameter of the seed. Length refers to the long axis of the seed; if the seed is round, the diameter can be measured along any axis.

Selecting Suggested Families:

The suggested families are now listed in the top right working pane. Click on the name below the picture for a fact sheet of that family at any time during the process. Each fact sheet contains a description of family features and pictures of the seed or fruit.

There will likely be more than one family suggested by the key, as seeds share common features. At this stage, look through the pictures and the fact sheets of the suggested families and choose which family best fits the seed. If the suggested families do not fit the seed in hand, or too many or too few taxa remain to make a conclusion, review the selected features and remove those that are unclear. Review those seed families that are added from these actions to see if a better fit was achieved. The entire key can also be reset by clicking on the restart key button on the far left of the toolbar.