Tips for using the key to monocot families

The Fruit and Seed Family ID key provides diagnostic characters (known as “features” in Lucid), and their states. By selecting one or more states, the list of families (or “entities” in Lucid) will be narrowed down to those that exhibit those states. If new to using Lucid keys, see Lucid best practices or consult “Help” from the key’s menu.

Determining if a specimen is a fruit or a seed is not always straightforward, especially if only fragments are found. Because this tool is aimed at a broad audience, not just trained botanists, the key was designed for that potential ambiguity by relying on broad characteristics, like shape, color, and size. And it does not require the user to determine if the specimen is a fruit or a seed; the first seven key features apply to both fruits and seeds. However, to better serve an expert audience, the key also includes a separate section of seed-specific features.

Given the sparsity of gross-morphological traits for fruits and seeds, plant families often share many of the same states for the features used in the key. This means that morphologically diverse families may be difficult to quickly eliminate. And fruits and seeds from distantly related and/or morphologically divergent families, may look similar. After narrowing down the possible families, check the fact sheets or image gallery to further aid identification. More about Lucid key best practices is here.

Choosing features and states

  • In general, you can select the feature(s) that are most obvious or most simple to interpret. Then choose the state(s) that match your unknown fruit or seed. Features may be selected in any order, and you do not need to choose a state for every feature.
  • To narrow down the list of families quickly after you’ve chosen a few states, you can try Lucid’s “Best” button (wand icon) in the key’s toolbar. Best’s algorithm will open the feature that is most useful right then in reducing the entities. You can continue working through the key by clicking the Best button, or you can use it whenever you’d like during your identification session.
  • If your unknown specimen is a seed, note the features pertaining just to seed identification that are available under “Seed-specific features.” In order to choose matching states in the seed embryo and nutritive tissue features, you must dissect the seed longitudinally.
  • The families (or “entities” in Lucid) are represented by a few illustrative images or illustrations of fruit types and seeds, including the internal shape and size of the embryo. Families vary in the number of species from one to tens of thousands and in their morphological diversity from a very consistent fruit type and seed morphology for nearly all the species to a range of fruit types and seed morphologies. Given this diversity, before dismissing a family based on the associated images in the key, review each family in the fact sheets, which includes additional images and a detailed description of the fruit and seed morphology.
Monocot fruits and seeds Lucid key