FW: Confidence and keys

Karen Wilson Karen_Wilson at RBGSYD.GOV.AU
Thu Jun 15 08:58:03 CDT 1995

>Joseph Laferriere wrote:
     My pet peeve in keys is characters which are technically correct but
>counterintuitive. I saw one key which went like this:

>Leaves simple ......
>Leaves compound ......
     Leaflets one .....
     Leaflets more than one .......

When I strike such a situation, which seems to be often when making keys in
Cyperaceae and Juncaceae, my response is to include species open to
misinterpretation on both sides of the lead in question. It makes for a
longer key but it does cater for both the homologically (is there such a
word??) knowledgeable and for the non-specialist.

Including diagnostic sketches can also be most helpful, but the formats of
most journals and books don't allow readily for that. To put in a plug for
a user-friendly style: our institution's recent 'Flora of New South Wales'
(4 vols, ed. G. Harden) includes line-drawings of at least one feature of
every species included. The drawings sit beside the descriptive text for
each species. The drawings do vary somewhat in helpfulness, to the critical
eye, but we have had good feed-back from users on the style generally.

Karen Wilson

     Karen L. Wilson
     Royal Botanic Gardens               E-mail: karen at rbgsyd.gov.au
     Mrs Macquaries Road                          Fax: 61-2-251.7231
     SYDNEY  NSW 2000,  AUSTRALIA               Phone: 61-2-231.8137

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