Dried botanicals are imported for varied uses including potpourri, decorative plant arrangements, and handicraft items. In the twenty-first century market, dried botanicals consist of whole or sectioned fungi, fruits, seeds, leaves, and almost anything that is botanical, has abundant air spaces ("physical fixatives" for the synthetic oils), has structural interest, and/or is inexpensive (e.g. lawn sweepings and waste products of other industries). While chiefly imported, materials are occasionally from North American sources. These botanicals may include potentially toxic species (e.g. strychnine leaves and fruits) as well as potential invasives (e.g., she-oak, an invasive in Florida). The latter can be a problem when buyers throw old potpourri in the garden. Some (e.g. members of the Rutaceae) may carry plant diseases.
Because these botanical materials are often not only sectioned but also bleached and/or dyed and then scented with fragrance oils, a botanical key to the whole plant, or even plant parts, is not practical. Thus, in this unique identification key, features such as shape, size, and texture are used. The key relies heavily upon the use of images and is structured so that both the professional botanist, who knows the difference between the Agaricales and Polyporales, and the amateur, who may not be able to distinguish sections of a bracket fungus from pieces of stem pith, can achieve an identification for a specimen. Because of the diversity of plants and plant parts and the accompanying esoteric vocabulary, practical terms (e.g. "football-shaped") have been used in the key. However, to maximize their value and validity, the fact sheets utilize botanical terminology.
Key authors: Arthur O. Tucker, Amanda J. Redford, and Julia Scher
This key is part of a complete Dried Botanical ID tool: http://idtools.org/id/dried_botanical/