Key Characteristic Term For a Forb Peduncle Covered With Scales

I’d like to use a dichotomous key to identify an asteracae.

In the attached image I see 2 characteristics that might be seen as keys to the plant’s identification. My botanical vocabulary is not broad enough to include the terms a taxonomist might use to describe the small scales on the peduncle holding the florets. The leaves also have a ‘hammered’ surface on close examination. A small spider guards its web attached to the bracts of florets that I see as further along in the seed forming process.

Is there a hypertext linked thesaurus of terms used in keying out plants?

Is this a question appropriate for posting on the General Forum? If not, where ought I to have posted it.


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Hi @baumgrenze, welcome to the forum! I’ve moved your post to Nature Talk since it isn’t directly about iNaturalist (but clearly nature). I can’t answer your question myself but hope someone else can.

The botanical term is actually scales for this instance. I’d advise you toward a table of different types of hairs and leaf surface types (Section 9 & 21 [they’re right next to eachother, this page is numbered strangely])

The leaf texture having a hammered appearance is not one which I have ever seen in a key before, I do not believe it is significant.

With asters, most of the characters which a key will ask you about will be about the flower and fruit fruit (phyllaries, number of rays, color, pappus scales, achene size/shape, is the flower ligulate, discoid, or radiate).

Also, I recognize this plant so let me know if you want the ID or any other help.


I can’t really help, but can make a suggestion. If you use Google Scholar to search for a revision of the genus/family in your region, sometimes the papers will contain a key along with descriptions. No guarantees, though! I work mostly with insects (Noctuidae), so don’t know how botany papers are structured.
I’ve also found that many keys, at least with insects, often need a microscope and a specimen to work properly. Photos may not show the pertinent features. Again, I do not know how botany works.

for what it’s worth, i know what this plant is, and just for grins, i tried to key it out using the key in Shinners and Mahler’s Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas. i hit a roadblock when i got to pappus form, since i don’t think i can make it out in the photo here. making an educated guess on that did lead me fairly quickly to the right plant, but making a wrong guess here leads to what i assume could be hours of dichotomous key disappointment.

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squamate - covered in scales (squama)
rugose - wrinkled, particularly by being covered in with a network of lines (usually veins) and having convex surfaces between those lines. [sometimes just an all-purpose “wrinkled”]

This is a good glossary with illustrative images and a useful search page:


I would not call these leaves ruggose, ruggose is more extreme than this. Something like this would be a good example

Thank you, Carrie Seltzer for finding the proper home for this post.

Thank you kevinfaccenda and pisum for offering to share the identity you arrived at. Is here the appropriate place to say, yes and thank you? Life is short (shorter each day or so it seems from my perspective.) I see that Kevin also found my Observations from 2016.

Thank you all for a spirited response to a question posed by an amateur botanist whose professional training was in synthetic organic chemistry. Unfortunately it is getting harder to keep all the needed information straight as I pass through the midpoint of my 81st year. I was just beginning to make use of the online Jepson as a 50 year Californian when, 18 months ago, I became a Virginian, so everything is new. Fortunately I have 17 acres of ‘second growth’ Piedmont forest in which to hunt for new thing to identify. It was set aside as a Nature Area and is part of our 58 acre Continuing Care Retirement Community. Life is good!

Thanks again,


You can post the photo on iNat if it was one you took and tag me. But it’s Eclipta prostrata.

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