How to use this guide
One way to find the right name for the plant that you are looking at is to compare it with the photographs on this REPS web site. Click here: … link to be inserted ….
Another way is to use a key which is based on the characteristics of the leaves (such as whether they are opposite or alternate, simple or compound). These keys are based on leaves, because leaves are more readily available in a rainforest than flowers or fruit.
The more technical botanical terms have generally been avoided on this web site.
The glossary in this website explains some terms that can be found to be confusing.
|Where the size of a tree is referred to in this website as:|
|Large:||more than 15 meters|
|Fern Frond – The majority of species have a divided frond|
|Simple leaf – Leaf blade not divided into leaflets|
|Compound leaf – Leaf blade subdivided into two or more leaflets|
|The species of ferns, orchids and herbs are easily distinguished from each other. The Brown Barrel Eucalyptus fastigata and the Cabbage Tree Palm Livistona australis, are easily distinguished from the other trees on this site, so although they are described and photographed, they are not included in a key to their identification. This website includes a description of all of the commonly found plant species in the Robertson Rainforest. Less commonly found species are listed only.|
HOW TO USE THE PLANT KEYS
If you have not used a key before, then try it out with a specimen of Blackwood Acacia melanoxylon leaves, shown below.
Look at the list of Groups A to D and see if your specimen fits Group A, then try Group B, and so on. You will find that your specimen is:
- 1. not in Group A because the leaves are not divided into leaflets; that is, they are what are called simple leaves.
- 2. not in Group B because the leaves do not come off the stem in whorls, nor close spirals.
- 3. not in Group C because there are no spines.
- 4. in Group D because the leaves come off the stem irregularly, i.e., not opposite but alternate.
|Knowing that the specimen is in Group D, the next step is to find out which of the species listed for Group D fits your specimen. To do this, go to the notes and drawings for the Group D species and consider the Subgroups D1 to D6. Which category best fits your specimen? You will find that your leaf (actually a phyllode, an adapted stem in this example) fits best in Subgroup D1, because it has three strong veins reaching to the tip of the leaf, and you will see a drawing and description that matches your specimen, Blackwood Acacia melanoxylon.|
Once you have identified the plant in the keys, go to the descriptions and photographs of each species in the Guide to the Trees and Shrubs section where the tree species are listed in alphabetical order according to their botanical names, in this case, acacia.
Remember that leaves from the same tree are not always exactly the same, so it is best to make a point of looking at leaves from several parts of the plant when checking the characteristics.
|KEY TO THE TREES AND SHRUBS|
|GROUP A||Leaves made up of 2 or more leaflets (compound leaves)|
|GROUP B||Leaves simple, coming off the stem in whorls or close spirals|
|GROUP C||Leaves simple, plants with spines|
|GROUP D||Leaves simple, alternate, plants without spines|
|GROUP E||Leaves simple, opposite, plants without spines|
|GROUP A – LEAVES MADE UP OF 2 OR MORE LEAFLETS (COMPOUND LEAVES)|
|A1 – LEAVES ALTERNATE, NO TERMINAL LEAFLET|
Leaflets 2‒6, up to 14 cm long, a few teeth on edge on upper half; a swelling where leaflet joins the leaf stalk and where leaf stalk joins the stem.
|A2 – LEAVES ALTERNATE, TERMINAL LEAFLET PRESENT|
Leaflets 5‒9, 5-8 cm long, edges smooth, underside with small hair tufts at some angles between mid and lateral veins. Whole leaf not longer than 40 cm.
Leaflets 9-31 or more, up to 20 cm long, edges usually with fine teeth; small gland on stalk between each pair of leaflets. Whole leaf up to 1m long.
|A3 – LEAVES OPPOSITE, TERMINAL LEAFLET PRESENT|
Leaflets firm, 1-7 cm long, edges smooth, tip rounded, with a fine point; first pair of leaflets near stem.
Leaflets 5, soft, 5-15 cm long, edges toothed, tip pointed; first pair of leaflets distant from stem.
|GROUP B – LEAVES SIMPLE, COMING OFF STEM IN WHORLS OR CLOSE SPIRALS|
Leaf 7-15 cm long, base tapering to the leaf stalk; leaf stalk 1‒2 cm long; edge of leaf often clearly wavy.
Leaf 20 cm by 5 cm, base broad and rounded at the leaf stalk; leaf stalk very short, less than 1 cm long; edge of leaf rarely wavy.
|GROUP C – LEAVES SIMPLE, PLANTS WITH SPINES|
|C1 – LEAVES: ALTERNATE, EDGES TOOTHED|
Leaves small, less than 1.5 cm long, firm, broad, glossy, with 3‒6 sharp teeth in the upper half.
Leaves 2-6 cm long; soft, narrow, not very glossy, edges with shallow teeth, tip rounded.
|C2 – LEAVES OPPOSITE, EDGES SMOOTH|
Leaves soft, small, less than 1 cm long; short side branches ending in spines.
|GROUP D – LEAVES SIMPLE, ALTERNATE, PLANTS WITHOUT SPINES|
|D1 – LEAVES WITH 3 OR MORE VEINS REACHING THE TIP|
Leaves 6-15 cm long with no mid-vein but 3 or 4 long parallel veins; same colour on both surfaces Note: Two-veined Hickory – Acacia binervata, has 2, or rarely 3, long veins.
Leaves 8-15 cm long with a distinct mid-vein and 2 other long veins; leaves paler underneath.
|D2 – LEAVES WITH ONLY ONE MAIN VEIN REACHING THE TIP, LENGTH 10 TIMES WIDTH, OR STRONGLY LOBED|
Leaves up to 35 cm long, very soft, stems and mid-vein often purple; mid-vein prominent underneath, lateral veins clearly visible.
|D3 – LEAVES WITH ONLY ONE MAIN VEIN REACHING THE TIP, UNDER SURFACE WITH HAIRS|
Leaves quite large, 7-14 cm long, silvery-white underneath, edges with very fine teeth.
Leaves fairly small, 3-8 cm long, pale brown hairs underneath, edges strongly toothed
|D4 – LEAVES WITH ONLY ONE MAIN VEIN REACHING THE TIP, UNDER SURFACE YELLOWISH OR BLUISH (NOT PALE GREEN)|
Leaves 4-10 cm long, yellowish underneath, thick, edges smooth, rounded tip, arranged in two rows on the stem; branchlets often zig-zag.
Leaves 6-13 cm long, with bluish-grey bloom underneath, prominent yellow mid-vein, blunt-pointed tip.
|D5 – LEAVES WITH ONLY ONE MAIN VEIN REACHING THE TIP, UNDER SURFACE GREEN, MID-VEIN RAISED ON THE UPPER SURFACE|
Leaves 5-10 cm long, firm, glossy, mid-vein pale, tip rounded; small shoots rusty brown.
|D6 – LEAVES WITH ONLY ONE MAIN VEIN REACHING THE TIP, UNDER SURFACE GREEN, MID-VEIN SUNKEN ON THE UPPER SURFACE|
Leaves large, up to 15 cm by 10 cm, soft edges wavy, small bumps at the angles of lateral veins on upper surface; branchlets zig-zag.
Leaves leathery, up to 15 cm by 4 cm, leaf stalk short, swollen at the base, edges smooth or with a few irregular teeth, stems straight.
Leaves firm, 7-12 cm long; stems red-brown and straight; bark knobbly brown, tree often attached to a tree fern trunk.
|MOUNTAIN WATER GUM|
Leaves firm, 5-8 cm long, aromatic smell when crushed; stems red-purple, straight; bark grey to white, flaky to fibrous.
|GROUP E … Leaves simple, opposite, plants without spines|
|E1 – EACH LEAF EDGE WITH 20 – 40 FINE TEETH|
Leaves 6-14 cm long; leaf stalk swollen at the base of the stalk; scar across the stem between leaf pairs.
|E2 – EACH LEAF EDGE WITH 20 OR FEWER TEETH, MID-VEIN RAISED ON THE UPPER SURFACE|
Leaves 4-12 cm long, upper surface with distinct yellowish white mid and lateral veins.
|E3 – EACH LEAF EDGE WITH FEWER THAN 20 TEETH, MID-VEIN SUNKEN ON THE UPPER SURFACE|
|VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS BUSH|
Leaves soft, thin, tip pointed, narrow, 3-12 cm long by 1-3 cm wide; teeth small or absent; “mint bush” aroma when crushed.
Leaves firm, thin, tip pointed, moderately narrow, up to 10 cm long by 2-4 cm wide; teeth pronounced; no distinct smell.
Leaves firm, thick, tip blunt or shortly pointed, oval, 6-12 cm long by 4-10 cm wide; teeth pronounced; aromatic when crushed.
|E4 – LEAF EDGES SMOOTH, WITHOUT TEETH|
Leaves glossy, 3.5-10 cm long, mid-vein sunken on upper surface, lateral veins just visible on upper surface.
|VEINED MOCK OLIVE|
Leaves dull, 6-16 cm long, mid-vein yellowish and raised on upper surface, lateral and small network veins clearly visible; leaf shape and size very variable.
Leaves soft, small, up to 1 cm long.
|KEY TO THE VINES AND SCRAMBLERS|
|GROUP A||Leaves made up of 2 or more leaflets (compound leaves)|
|GROUP B||Leaves simple, with 3 or more veins reaching the tip of the leaf|
|GROUP C||Leaves simple, alternate, only the mid-vein reaching the leaf tip|
|GROUP D||Leaves simple, opposite, only the mid-vein reaching the leaf tip|
|GROUP A – LEAVES MADE UP OF 2 OR MORE LEAFLETS (compound leaves)|
|A1: PLANTS WITH PRICKLES|
Leaves made up of 2‒3 pairs and a larger terminal leaflet; edges of leaflets toothed.
Leaves with 3‒5 leaflets arising from one point (like a hand); green underneath, edges of leaflet toothed. In contrast Blackberry leaflets are whitish-grey underneath.
|A2: PLANTS WITHOUT PRICKLES, WITH OPPOSITE, COMPOUND LEAVES|
Leaves with three thin leaflets, edges mostly smooth, often with 1‒3 teeth near the base; leaf stalk may act as a tendril.
Leaves with three thickish leaflets, edges irregularly toothed; leaf stalk may act as a tendril.
Leaves with 2‒4 pairs of leaflets and a terminal leaflet, edges smooth. Young plants have more and smaller leaflets
|A3: PLANTS WITHOUT PRICKLES, WITH ALTERNATE, COMPOUND LEAVES|
|FIVE-LEAF WATER VINE|
Leaves with five leaflets arising from one point (like a hand), pale or ashy-grey underneath; a tendril on stem opposite a leaf. Young plants have three leaflets, which may be toothed.
|GROUP B – LEAVES SIMPLE WITH 3+ VEINS REACHING THE TIP OF THE LEAF|
|B1: LEAVES WITH 3‒5 PROMINENT PARALLEL VEINS|
Leaves alternate, up to 15 cm long, veins conspicuous; prickles on most stems; a pair of tendrils on the leaf stalk (often small); older leaves hard and leathery.
Leaves nearly opposite, up to 12 cm long, often in threes; no tendrils; prickles only on larger stems.
|B2: LEAVES WITH MANY FINE, CLOSELY-SPACED PARALLEL VEINS N.B. The following two species may, at first sight, appear to have compound leaves.|
Leaves 5-10 cm long, usually 2 to 3 cm wide in this area, no distinct mid-vein on upper surface, almost the same bright green on both surfaces.
Leaves 5-9 cm long, usually 0.5 to 1 cm wide in this area, dark green with a distinct mid-vein on upper surface, clearly paler underneath.
|GROUP C – LEAVES SIMPLE, ALTERNATE, ONLY THE MID-VEIN REACHING THE TIP OF THE LEAF|
|C1: PLANTS WITH PRICKLES|
Rubus moluccanus var. triloba
Leaves up to 15 cm long, edges finely toothed, hairy underneath, with prickles on the mid-vein.
|C2: PLANTS WITHOUT PRICKLES|
Passiflora herbertiana subsp. herbertiana
Leaves 6 to 12 cm long by up to 8 cm wide, usually 3-lobed, slightly hairy underneath; leaf stalk up to 4 cm long with a pair of glands near the leaf base.
Leaves up to 12 cm long by 5 to 10 cm wide, without hairs, edges smooth; leaf stalk up to 8 cm long; leaf heart-shaped with a long tip.
Leaves 3 to 9 cm long by 1 to 4 cm wide, without hairs, edges with very small teeth; leaf stalk 1.5 cm long.
|CLIMBING GUINEA FLOWER|
Leaves 3 to 9 cm long, young leaves with fine hairs, edges smooth or with a few small teeth; leaf stalk indistinct, leaf base narrow and clasping the stem.
|GROUP D – LEAVES SIMPLE, OPPOSITE, ONLY THE MID-VEIN REACHING THE TIP OF THE LEAF|
|D1: LEAVES WITH TOOTHED EDGES|
Leaves soft and hairy, leaf pairs unequal in size, larger leaf about 3 to 7 cm long, edges coarsely toothed.
Leaves firm and glossy, up to 10 cm long, without hairs, regularly toothed, leaf pairs equal in size; climber or straggly shrub.
|D2: LEAVES WITH HAIRS, EDGES NOT TOOTHED|
Leaves 5 to 14 cm long, rough to touch, hairs underneath; woody climber with backwardly directed young shoots on new stems.
|D3: LEAVES WITHOUT HAIRS, EDGES SMOOTH; SMALL CLIMBERS WITH SOFT LEAVES|
Leaves up to 6 cm long by 2.5 cm wide, dull green with a short-pointed tip, mid-vein sunken on upper surface; leaf stalk up to 2 cm long.
Leaves up to 7 cm long, glossy with a drawn-out point, mid-vein raised on upper surface; may have up to 4 raised bumps in angles between mid and side veins; leaf stalk up to 1 cm long.
|D4: LEAVES WITHOUT HAIRS, EDGES SMOOTH; LARGE CLIMBERS WITH FIRM LEAVES|
|COMMON MILK VINE|
Leaves 4 to 13 cm long by 2 to 7 cm wide, glossy, a distinct yellowish mid-vein sunken on upper surface, narrow tip; milky sap when leaves are broken.
Leaves 4 to 10 cm long, shiny, with pale green mid-vein sunken on upper surface, lateral veins closely spaced at a small angle to mid-vein; clear sap when leaves are broken.
Leaves 7-12 cm long, with a prominent yellowish mid-vein level with, or raised above, upper surface, lateral veins well-spaced, at a medium angle to mid-vein; clear sap when leaves are broken. Young plants grow attached to tree trunks or rocks, leaves purple underneath.
These keys follow the example of the much more extensive leaf keys in Harden, McDonald and Williams (2018, 2014)