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Plant Identification

What makes a daisy a daisy? And what does a daisy do? Students learn techniques for observing, collecting, identifying, and preserving plants. Hands-on activities help them hone their observation skills and learn how to identify and classify specimens. Students can put these skills to work in the field, observing plants and collecting specimens to press and preserve.



Helpful Hints for Field Sketching

People often assume that drawing skills are something you're born with. But the truth is, like any other skill, drawing is something you can learn. Start sketching with these helpful hints.


Classroom Activity

Blindfolded Walk

Without your eyes to guide—and possibly distract—you, what would you notice that you otherwise might not have? Enlist the help of a few friends, and find out.



Twig Twins

A twig is just a twig—or is it? You can identify a plant, tree, or shrub just by closely observing one small part of it. After this activity, you'll never again dismiss a twig.


Classroom Activity

Describing Oak Leaves

Test your classification skills with this leafy challenge. Examine drawings of 12 oak leaves, and see if you can determine the common and scientific name for each one of the dozen.



Types of Oak Leaves

Long and narrow like a feather or small and symmetrical like a rose petal—the variety of oak leaves runs the gamut. See if your leaves match any of the 12 varieties featured in this sheet of hand drawings.

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How to Identify Plants in the Field

When it comes to identifying plant species, making mistakes is part of the process. That's why this botanist and curator recommends, "Never erase anything!"



Who Are the Plants?

There are 10 divisions in the plant kingdom. The largest order, flowering plants, has 235,000 species. The smallest, gingkoes, has a single species. Learn more about the orders in the kingdom Plantae.



Responsible Collecting

Collecting specimens is necessary for studying and documenting new species—making responsible collecting all the more important. Find out how you can practice it.



Collecting Plants

The New York Botanical Garden has plant specimens that date back to the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-1806. What better place to learn how to protect and store your botanical treasures?



How to Press and Preserve Plants

Autumn leaves, flawless fronds, prickly grasses, and perfect petals—all are great specimens to be noted and preserved. Find out how to press like a pro.


American Museum of Natural History

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New York, NY 10024-5192
Phone: 212-769-5100

Open daily from 10 am-5:45 pm
except on Thanksgiving and Christmas
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