View Full Version : Learning to Identify

09-06-2009, 03:25 PM
I took this picture a few minutes ago. These plants are growing at the edge of our cornfield, and they appear to be (possibly) some type of "pea". They volunteered and there are a lot of them. When I opened a pod, it's full of little objects that look just like miniature peas. They are smaller than a BB (as in, Red Ryder "You'll shoot your eye out, Kid"... not as in Busty Blondes). So, my question is: How do I go about learning how to identify plants? I have a copy of Peterson's guide ordered, but I'm wondering how you guys identify them. I mean, is there some system used in order to locate a plant in a guide (or the internet) or do you just start looking and hope to run across it within a reasonable amount of time?

09-06-2009, 03:48 PM
I've seen those in SC too. Not sure what they are though....

09-06-2009, 03:51 PM
Skysoldier, I've seen those before do they have a Yellow flower? If so this is what I did---I looked in my peterson guide Edible wild plants in the yellow flower section, until I found a plant that closely resembles this plant. 3 pairs of leaves with a sickle shaped beanpod in the drawing. If I'm right this would make the plant you have photographed as- Sicklepod --Cassia tora p.82 Drawing is on the opposite page (p.83) Then I read up on the plant. IF I am right this plant is edible,the young shoots can be cooked like asparagus.

09-06-2009, 04:24 PM
look up the pea family on google, not what the flowers look like as in color and shape of flowers how many petals then look at the stalk, smooth, hairy, red, green?etc also the leaves are the opposite or do they alternate
always note down everything you possibly can about the plant, if lots of it i usually dig up a stalk so i can look at the roots also.
now they key thing her is to go csi on this don't make the plant fit the description by saying well i guess its a six petal flower, no guessing be sure is it 4 or 5 or 6 then advance from there, the great part is that you have the pea family to start with helps narrow it down a bit
at least i think thats how its done, :)
hope this helps

Jayden Tor
09-06-2009, 06:13 PM
Watch out, they will take over. It's an invasive species and spreads like wildfire.

09-06-2009, 06:30 PM
Watch out, they will take over. It's an invasive species and spreads like wildfire.

Was I right Jayden?

09-06-2009, 06:56 PM
looks pretty right on there poco, but just going from the pic

Jayden Tor
09-06-2009, 08:27 PM
Was I right Jayden?

Yea, you're right.

09-07-2009, 07:38 AM
I think WE summed up the method to ID pretty well. It's all about observation and perhaps understanding some of the technical terms used in the books and online.

I take pics of every part of the plant and if I notice young and old plants of the apparent same type I photo them too. then, when I'm sittin round at home I can go thru at leisure using the field guides and online resources to make a positive ID.

Once I get a positive I write it down in my journal and name the pics by species. This helps me commit it to memory for the future.

It helps a great deal to seek local advice. Whether it be a regional book or local expert. check with the DNR, parks mgmt., universities, clubs, etc.

09-07-2009, 10:02 AM
My advice would be to also never rely on just one source.. no matter how reputable. (peterson is pretty good).... It always pays to cross reference your sources..IMHO