Knowing your friends in the kudzu patch is a good idea, and most trees are our friends. While saving trees, bushes, or vines from kudzu, you might want to know what you are saving! University of South Carolina Upstate professor of botany and Coalition volunteer Dr. Gillian Newberry has prepared tree identification keys. These keys are for vines, shrubs, and trees commonly found in northwestern South Carolina. Each page is a PDF file, the largest being about 300 KB in size. The documents can be printed for outdoor reference.

  • Vines (4 Pages, 25 KB)
  • Shrubs (3 Pages, 19 KB)
  • Trees with Needle-Like or Scale-Like Leaves: Pages 1, 2
  • Trees with Simple Leaves: Pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
  • Trees with Compound Leaves: Pages 1, 2
  • Oak Trees: Pages 1, 2, 3

The lists for vines and shrubs are standard botanical text keys, where numbers specifying plant traits are followed until the sequence ends at the identified plant. The keys for trees are pictorial branched diagrams where branches are followed based on tree traits until the tree is identified. Besides being limited to northwestern South Carolina, the keys only list the most commonly found plants. (Thanks to Dr. Victor Maddox at the GeoResources Institute, Mississippi State University, for suggesting improvements to early versions of the keys!)

Some plant drawings are from the following two books:

Guide to the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas, with Distribution in the Southeastern States, by Albert E. Radford, Harry E. Ahles, C. Richie Bell; University of North Carolina (1964).

Complete Trees of North America, by Thomas S. Elias; Random House (1987).