Correct identification of plants is a prerequisite to achieving desirable results in health care delivery, sustainable food production and housing, forest resources management and environmental protection. However, many of the paper-based/printable taxonomic key formats available to the taxonomist for this important responsibility are fraught with inadequacies some of which include fixed sequence of plant identification steps, non- or hardly-susceptible to computerisation, lack of provision for confirmation of suspected plant identity and indeterminable character states, and tedious construction and navigation procedures. This paper with the aim of making the practice of plant taxonomy more attractive, less laborious and dreaded, proposes two new key formats with highlights of their design/features, construction procedures and usage. These alternative key formats, with varying capacities to circumvent some of the enumerated challenges are multi-level table of identification and multi-layer circular diagnostic chart. The status of each of the proposed key formats is discussed with reference to the inadequacies observed in the dichotomous key format with which most taxonomists are familiar. Based on their structural features and functionality attributes, it is conclusive that the two alternative key formats constitute useful templates upon which reliable plant diagnostic tools can be based.
Key words: Automated plant identification, computerised key, diagnostic key, dichotomous key, multi-access key, plant identification, single-access key, taxonomic key.
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