Recently the Nelson Botanical Society hired the SeniorNet Learning Centre to learn how to use a new interactive computer based key, which will enable identification of any of the 53 species of Coprosma currently recognized in New Zealand. Lindsay Hunter also attended, not just to keep a watchful eye on the computers, but also out of curiosity to see for himself how this web-based key works.
A senior botanist gave an introduction on how to use the key. In general terms identification is made by keying in various characters of the Coprosma species in hand, usually starting with a precise feature such as the leaf measurements. There are many photos of each of the species available in the program, including fruit and flowers. There are also very clear written descriptions of the special features of the Coprosma species. Apart from a computer connected to the Internet, the most important tools required are a hand lens and a ruler. Then, for hands on practice, a selection of fresh specimens of several species of Coprosma was available for members to choose from. All agreed it was much more fun than trying to make the identification from a book, though not always straightforward as some of the plant features were quite subtle.
SeniorNet members with a botanical interest in our New Zealand native plants might like to have a play with the key at: this webpage.