Higher plants in Estonia

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(Primary, secondary and university level)

Students identified the trees and shrubs which grow in Estonia in natural localities, parks or orchards.

School level

We did this at all three levels – primary (adapted version, see below), secondary, university levels.

Identification tools

The interactive Dryades-based tool Flora of Estonia - Trees and shrubs is available online, having both the interface of a dichotomous key and the interface of a multi-entry query.

The main tool presents 140 species, including the majority of spontaneous trees and bushes (except the species which are difficult to separate even for specialists in the genera Crataegus, Rosa and Salix). In addition, the most frequent introduced species of trees and bushes are also included, as well as the common fruit trees which are cultivated in orchards.

The adapted version Common trees and shrubs of Estonia is available for pupils of primary schools, presenting an interactive key for 56 species. The identification key leads to the species pages where the following information is presented for each species:

  • Estonian and Latin name
  • Family
  • Characteristic features
  • Distribution and ecology
  • Remarks (uses, similar taxa etc)
  • Distribution map in Estonia
  • Numerous colour images (from the image archive of Dryades)

Further resources


  • Teachers collected small branches with leaves representing various trees and bushes, but sometimes set this task for the pupils. They have to collect small branches, because single leaves alone are not sufficient for the identification of species as the position of leaves on the stem (opposite or not) is one of the first characters.
  • Teachers checked that they are familiar with all terms used in the key. If not, they used the additional materials to make this clear (e.g. Quiz). They decided which terms should be explained to their pupils before starting the identification.
  • Some teachers print out the whole key for their own needs. The print out helped them to understand at which step the wrong choice was made while helping the pupils to correct their identifications.
  • Teachers reserved the computer class with online connection or downloaded the key to the computers in use from the CD.

Summarising the experience

The key has been tested on four different occasions so far (November 2008), on all three levels.

Statements from the students

All participants appreciate the numerous coloured images and the ability to magnify them. Some alternatives could not be decided as there were no flowers available at that season.