Detailed Study of Keys

FlowerDo you know how to use a field guide’s key? Are you aware that each field guide author chooses the type of key they use to organize the material they include in the book? Have you discovered how many types of keys there are?

The types of field guide keys range from the simplest (flower color) to more complex (dichotomous). How can you possibly navigate through this variety when you never intended to learn botany in a college-level course?

If you’re like me, you want an easy, efficient method for identifying a plant’s common and scientific names. I’ve studied a variety of keys and practiced using them with a number of field guides. You, too, can learn to use these keys . . . in a way that is fun and simple to follow.

I created a set of six videos called “A Detailed Study of Keys Used in Field Guides” to clearly demonstrate how to use seven different types of keys. You may find these features of benefit to you:

  • Each video can be viewed an unlimited number of times which means you can study the material on more than one occasion. And you can re-watch a video when you are ready to use a particular type of key with a field guide that is new to you.
  • The six videos are accessible with an internet connection so you can watch them wherever you go. Teachers can share the videos with their students via a digital projector connected to the internet.
  • The clear demonstration of a key can help you decide which type of key is easiest for you. This becomes especially useful when you want to choose a new field guide based on the type of key it utilizes.
  • The entire series feels like having a teacher or mentor sitting next to you and assisting you with learning to use a field guide’s key. This personalized approach facilitates your ability to easily learn the material.
  • Each video is sequenced and focused on one type of key — allowing you to clearly comprehend that specific key before approaching the next key.
  • The videos run between four and eight minutes in length. These are short enough for you to work into your personal schedule by watching only one video at a time (between your other activities or your personal practice of using the keys).
  • The use of each of the seven keys is demonstrated through actually viewing and studying a variety of unknown plants. Rather than reading about how to use a key in a field guide’s introduction (a challenging task), you can learn from the “hands on” video demonstration.


After watching the videos, people have shared with me . . .

As I watch the videos, I realize that learning about the keys is not an issue for me.  It’s fun!  I know I can do this.

Your presence is reassuring, steady and feels supportive.

The way you present this makes everything seem easy and clear.  Very precise.

You’re an awesome teacher!

The video is beautiful.

I’m a visual person.  Seeing the video made everything simple and easy to understand.


So what is the price for this beautiful, awesome teaching?

Although “A Detailed Study of Keys Used in Field Guides” was initially sold for $25, I have now elected to make the videos publicly available.  Each of the six videos is accessible below.