Plant Identification Help 


We often receive questions related to identifying landscape plants. There are many smart phone apps available that can sometimes accurately identify plants through photos. Your local extension agency is a great resource, especially if you provide a complete plant sample for identification. Here are some items to consider as you prepare a sample for your agency whether for identification of the plant itself or to help diagnose causes of damage.

     Live Plant Sample:

  • For small plants, include as much as possible: roots, stems, leaves, flowers and fruits.
  • Gently shake loose soil from the roots but do not wash roots.
  • Prevent wilting by placing roots in a plastic bag and keep them moist.
  • Stems, leaves and other above-ground growth can be covered in newspaper, not plastic.
  • Harvest the sample as close to the day you will deliver it as possible.
  • For trees, shrubs and vines include a branch, approximately one- to two-feet in length, with several buds/leaves.
  • Store plant sample(s) in a box in a cool, dark location until it is delivered to prevent wilt.

    Photo Submissions:

  • Include a photo of the entire plant and growing site.
  • Include a photo of the leaves, stems, buds, fruit and flowers up close.
  • Show how large the plant parts are by including a scaling item, such as a ruler, next to the plant part(s).
  • Ensure photos are in-focus.
  • If plant has symptoms of disease or pest damage, include images of healthy and unhealthy plant material.
  • Include a photo of the plant against a solid background so the plant stands out. Examples of background could be a piece of paper or your hand.
  • Sending in photos to accompany a live sample is a great way to show the surroundings where the specimen is growing and can aide in identification. In general, include enough information in your plant sample, whether live or digital, to tell a complete story for the best chance of accurate identification.
  • Cynthia Domenghini, Extension Agent


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