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[APD] Plant identification keys and manuals

Since there has been some discussion of how to identify aquarium and pond plants I thought I'd mention an new and valuable resource that some of you may be unaware of.

There is a new, interactive, identification key titled "Aquarium and Pond Plants of the World".  This program is easy to use and has a lot of pictures.  What is nice about it over a paper key is that you can choose any question in any order.  You just keep choosing questions until you have narrowed down the possibilities to one.  Then you can read about it and look at the pictures (letting you verify your ID).  126 genera are in the key.  The main drawback is that it only identifies plants to genus.  The notes section may help you get it to species in some instances.  So its main utility is in helping you with the problem of "I have no idea what plant I have!" and not so much on "What Anubias do I have?"  But it is totally free, so you will probably get your money's worth out of it.

The key was made by an Australian researcher, but he did it in North Carolina as part of a USDA funded project.  So while it is a world wide key, it is biased towards plants we would find in ponds and aquaria in North America, Australia, and Europe.

Here is the link to the key:


It may be a bit of a pain to download it as you need to download the Lucid Player program.  All of what you need is free (the programs for sale on the website are for creating these keys, the program to use the key is free).  On the page I've linked to I'd recommend downloading the Lucid 2 version Lucid Player Standard (Lucid 3 is new and a bit buggy still, and it doesn't improve the key in any way).  The link to that is on that page.  Once you download that  click the "I want to use version 2" link.  

As far as I can tell you have to be online to use this program in the way I've outlined.  But it looks like a free CD verison is available if you contact the person at this link: 



P.S.  To the poster who was trying to identify Potamogeton, offhand I am unsure what the best source for identification would be.  But if you know how to use taxonomic keys I would suggest finding a florisitic treatment of Washington or a nearby area (I doubt there are many, if any, endemic aquatics to Washington).  I'm not as up on the best treatments of the Pacific Northwest flora, but at the very least the Jepson manual of the California Flora will probably have every species that you would see in Washington.  Keep in mind that Potamogeton is a highly variable plant and what may look like several different species may just be one or two.  Also, you may need fruit for a positive ID, but it looks like the Jepson key is mostly vegetative.  If you aren't versed in botanical terminology it may be a rough go however.


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