The eFlora comprises a single key to all species of vascular plant in the Sydney region. The key is presented as an indented key comprising a series of paired questions (couplets). Each couplet consists of only two leads and you can choose one or both of the leads in a couplet simply by clicking on the accept button. When you select a lead, the next couplet in the key will be revealed directly below your last choice. If, at any stage of the keying process, you don't think that a lead is relevant to your material, you can close it by clicking on the reject button. Couplets and leads can be opened and closed as often as you need to, and you can have multiple parts of the key open at the same time. This will enable you to compare different pathways through the key.

As you browse more deeply into the key, you might find that you have a number of couplets open at the same time. Couplets in which both leads are open are indicated by a diagonal arrow. You might need to use your browser's vertical scroll bar to find the matching lead of an opened couplet if you have a long pathway open.

Couplets in which only one lead is currently open are indicated by downward-pointing arrow. To further help you navigate your way through the key, each open lead of the same couplet will be indented by the same amount. When you have very long pathways open, some of the key might appear to be compressed towards the right-hand side of the window. If this happens, use the horizontal scroll bar to reveal the obscured words.

By selecting the leads that best match your plant, you will eventually arrive at a name. At that stage you will have successfully indentified your unknown plant to a particular taxonomic level, and, by clicking on its name, you can go its description on a taxon page. The availability of a taxon page is indicated in the key by a taxon name appearing in green. A taxon page presents the description of a taxon as well as its taxonomic hierarchy and any other associated information. You can return to the key by clicking your browser's "back to" button.

Getting started

The best way to think of the key is that it is like a large dichotomously branching tree. Each branch of the tree can be opened or closed by selecting leads in a couplet. Like a real tree, this key has a root that begins with the very first couplet. You can get to the root of the key by selecting the Vascular Plants link.

Alternatively, you can start browsing the key above the root by selecting another group of plants from the navigation tabs. For example, if you think that you have a flowering plant you can simply click on Flowering Plants and you will be presented with the start of the key to flowering plants.

You don't have to start by selecting one of the major groups of plants. As you become better at plant identification you might feel confident that you have a member of a particular family of genus. If that's the case, click on the Families or Genera links and chose the name of the plant that you think you have. You will be taken to the appropriate part of the key for your plant. You can also enter the key directly from the search page.

Technical terminology

The eFlora uses standard, botanical terminology in the key and descriptions. If you are not familiar with some of these words you can either role over a word and its definition will appear, or you can click on the word and you will be taken to its definition and a list of related words. The glossary can be used independently of the key and taxon pages by going directly to the glossary, or you can use your internet browser to open the glossary in a new window so that you have the glossary and the key browser open simultaneously.