Tree Identification Tools

Dichotomous Keys
What is a dichotomous key? A dichotomous key is one tool that can be used to identify trees. This type of key is also used for flowers, animals, rocks, fish, and more!
A dichotomous key contains a series of choices that lead the user to the correct name of an item. "Dichotomous" means "divided into two parts." Therefore, a dichotomous key will always give two choices in a step.
This interactive online dichotomous tree key will help you identify some of the coniferous and deciduous trees native to Wisconsin.

The printable Tree ID Key and Tree Identificaiton Terms will help you identify some of the coniferous and deciduous trees native to Wisconsin. Ten coniferous and 32 deciduous trees are featured. This key is part of LEAF Field Enhancement 1, Tree Identification.

Lesson Idea
Here is a high school lab that Biology teacher Kevin Hall created. It uses the LEAF On-line Tree Key.  HSlab.rtfWord Document   HSlab.pdfPDF

Print, cut out, and laminate these cards of common Wisconsin trees. Hang them on trees to be identified or use them in the classroom. They are helpful resources when leaves, fruit, or seeds are not present or are too high on a tree to be examined. Supplement to LEAF Unit 7-8, Field Enhancement 1, Tree Identification.


7-8 Tree ID Terms 2012.pdfPrintable Tree Identification Terms 

Definitions and drawings of common tree ID vocabulary.

Other Tree Identification Web Resources


Key to Wisconsin Woody Plants for the iPod Link​

American Forests' Tree Doctor
Confused but curious about pruning? Baffled by bugs? Stumped by a tree ID? American Forests' Tree Doctor is in and online. Send your tree-related questions to an expert at  and they'll respond directly to you. 

Dichotomous Tree Key - EEK! Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
This is the DNR's tree ID site for kids. It utilizes descriptions and line drawings. Link
National Arbor Day Foundation
Detailed information on dozens of commonly planted landscape trees that grow throughout the United States as well as tree terms, forest layers, tree classification, and anatomy of tree. Link​

Also from the National Arbor Day Foundation, line drawings of tree leaves found throughout the U.S. and an animated "how to" identify trees guide. Link
Tree and Shrub Identification - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Basic ID key with photos and descriptions of many Wisconsin tree species. Link
Trees of Wisconsin - Cofrin Center for Biodiversity
Features an on-line key and list of tree species with photos. Link

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Herbarium
An incredible collection of identification resources including photos, keys, and descriptions of natural communities, fungi, plants, and more. Link

UI Plants
A database on woody landscape plant identification, culture and usage for the Midwest, including native and introduced species and their major varieties and cultivars. Search by common or scientific name. Images and information on habitat, leaves, buds, stems, flowers, fruits, fall color, bark, and culture. Link