computer key

Eric Zurcher ericz at ENTO.CSIRO.AU
Thu Aug 17 09:49:33 CDT 2000

Hi Jenny,

At 12:58 16/08/2000 -0700, you wrote:
>Dear Taxacomers:
>Is there any computer keys for plant identification available on the
>internet for teaching systematic botany class?  Thanks!
>Jenny Qiu-Yun Xiang

There are quite a few different "computer keys" available, as well as
various  sets of tools for generating your own. Most notably (in my
admittedly biased opinion), some large indentification datasets based on
the DELTA/Intkey system may be obtained at:

The botanical datasets available at that site include:

Commercial timbers (in English, German, French, and Spanish)
Cyperaceae of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago *
Fabaceae of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago *
Festuca of North America *
Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago *
Flowering plants (angiosperms) - families *
Grass genera of Friuli - Venezia Giulia (in Italian) *
Grass genera of the world *
Grass species of the world Grasses of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago
Juncaceae and Liliaceae of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago *
Leguminosae-Caesalpinioideae and Swartzieae - genera
Panicodae (Paniceae, Isachneae, and Neurachneae) of Australia
Polychaetes from southern Australia
Pooideae (Poaceae) in Australia
Ranunculaceae of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago *
Salicaceae of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago *
Saxifragaceae of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago *
Sedges - genera
Tree genera of Borneo

The primary caveat in using these datasets is that the Intkey program runs
only on Windows platforms (or on Windows emulators). Those datasets marked
with a '*' above are based on more recent version of Intkey, and the data
can be accessed dynamically across the Web at runtime. The others require
explicitly downloading files to the local machine.

Other keys based on the DELTA system, but not requiring use of the
Windows-based Intkey program, include those based on Navikey (which uses
Java applets. See ) and
Polyclave (which uses HTML forms. See ).

And there are a number of other botanical computer keys available, not
based on DELTA. I found quite a few (many of them basically "conventional"
keys laid out in HTML, but some are polyclave) by going to the "Internet
Directory for Botany" ( and doing a search for
"key or keys".

It would be interesting to hear which of these you and your students find
to be most useful, and the extent to which the students prefer (or not)
them to "conventional" keys.

Eric Zurcher
CSIRO Division of Entomology
Canberra, Australia
E-mail: ericz at

More information about the Taxacom mailing list