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How to use the Plant Toolbox

Looking for the glossary?


Search by Plant Name

  • Type a plant name into the search box to bring up the plant profile.
  • You may search by botanical name or common name.
  • Search results are displayed as you type. You can click on a plant name or a tag to see your results.
  • The list only displays the first 8 items. To see everything that matches your search, hit “enter” at the end of the word in the search box.

Find a Plant

  • This is the tool you use to find a plant that suits your needs.
  • By choosing from the filters, you can narrow the results until you have exactly the plant you're looking for.
  • an image of the "find a plant" filters with "annual" checked
  • More Detailed Directions


Identify a Plant

  • This is the tool to use if you have a plant, but you want to know what it is.
  • You use the filters to pick attributes your plant has, and the results are plants that have those characteristics.
  • an image of the "identify a plant" filters with "broadleaf evergreen" checked


  • Toward the top of the results page, you will see which filters you have chosen:
  • An image of the top of the results window, showing which filters have been selected
  • You can click the An icon image with a circle/slash  to un-select that filter.

  • Tags

    • You can also find plant using tags.
    • Here are some tags
    • An image of several tag labels
    • If you click on one, you will be shown all the plants that have that tag.
    • For example, clicking on the #butterflies tag shows all the plants that are tagged #butterflies.
    • An image of the top of the results window, showing which tags have been selected
    • You can click the An icon image with a circle/slash  to un-select that tag.
    • Definition of Tags that are initials
      • APVG=Plants in the online course Annuals, Perennials, Vines & Groundcovers
        • APVG-A = Annuals in the course
        • APVG-P= Perennials in the course
        • APVG-VG=Vines and groundcovers in the course
      • CPP=Certified Plant Professionals
      • EBH= Plants in the online course Edibles, Bulbs, and Houseplants
        • EBH-VH=Vegetables and Herbs
        • EBH-G=Geophytes/Bulbs
        • EBH-H=Houseplants
        • EBH-FN=Fruits and Nuts
      • TSC= Plants in the online course Trees Shrubs and Conifers
        • TSC-T=Trees in the course
        • TSC-S=Shrubs in the course
        • TSC-CG=Conifers and Gymnosperms in the course

Scientific / Common name

  • You can choose to display your results by scientific or common name by using this switch An image of the top of the results window, the number of results, and a switch to choose scientific or common name

 will show you the navigation options, and this icon An icon image with three stacked horizontal bars and the word "menu" will expand the menus so you can see them.


Scientific  Name Verification

Print a Plant Profile or Shopping List


Invasive Species Determination

The following sites are referenced

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Other Extension Gardener Resources


Looking for an extensive glossary? See the NC Extension Gardener Handbook Glossary

Term Definition
Appendage A part of a plant that is a modification of a stem, root. or leaf.
Attracts What beneficial insects or birds the plant attracts.
Available Space To Plant Measured in feet, the length of the diameter of a circle, with the plant at its center, that is required for a plant to reach its mature size unobstructed.
Bark Attachment The appearance of bark and how tight or loose it is to the trunks of woody plants.
Bark Color The color of the outer bark of a woody plant.
Bark Plate Shape The shape of flat sections of bark separated by furrows.
Design Feature The design function of a plant in the landscape.
Flower Bloom Time The season in which flowers are in bloom.
Flower Color The primary color (or colors) of the petals, or sometimes other structures like sepals, tepals, or reproductive organs of the flowers.
Flower Inflorescence

A grouping or cluster of flowers on a stem in various formations.

flower inflorescence

Flower Petals The number of individual petals on a single flower.
Flower Shape

The form and anatomy of the individual blooms on a plant.

Illustration of flower parts

Flower Size How large the individual blossoms are in inches.
Flower Value To Gardener The positive characteristics the flowers of a plant bring to the gardener.
Fruit Color The color the fruit appears at maturity.
Fruit Display Harvest Time The time of the year when fruits would be showy and/or when they would be ready to harvest.
Fruit Length The average length of the fruiting body in inches.
Fruit Type The structure developed from a ripened ovary, or ovaries, of a plant.
Fruit Value To Gardener The positive characteristics the fruits of a plant bring to the gardener.
Fruit Width The average width of the fruiting body in inches.
Growth Rate How fast a plant grows. This is a factor of light, nutrients, water, and temperature.
Habit Shape, form, and appearance of a plant.

A soft, pliable, usually barkless shoot or plant. Distinct from stiff, woody growth. 

Herbaceous perennial A plant that dies back in the winter and regrows from the crown in spring.
Landscape Location Places in the landscape that might be influenced by different environmental factors.
Landscape Theme Gardens defined by a particular geographical style, certain identifiable plant characteristics, or color palette.
Leaf Apex Illustrations of leaf apex
Leaf Arrangement

How leaves are positioned on the stems of plants.  Alternate, Opposite or Whorled

Photos of Alternate, Opposite, and Whorled Leaf Arrangement

Leaf Base Illustrations of Leaf Base
Leaf Characteristics What type and how long leaves stay on a plant.
Leaf Color The color or colors of the blades of the leaves during the growing season.
Leaf Fall Color The color the leaves turn in autumn. Not all plants have a change of color with the seasons.
Leaf Feel How the leaf feels to the touch.
Leaf Hairs Present If there are hairs on any surface of the leaf.
Leaf Length The average length of the blade of the leaf in inches.
Leaf Margin

The shape of the edge of the leaf blade.

Illustration of leaf margins

Leaf Parts Illustration of Leaf Parts
Leaf Shape

The varying shapes of individual leaf blades.

Illustrations of Leaf Shape
Leaf Type

The form and number of leaf blades which differ greatly among plants.

A) Simple; B) Palmately compound; C) Pinnately compound; D) Bipinnately compound

Illustrations of leaf types

Leaf Value To Gardener The positive characteristics leaves of a plant bring to the gardener.
Leaf Width The average width of the blade of the leaf in inches.
Light The amount of sunlight required for optimum plant health.
Maintenance The amount of activity required to keep a plant in top condition.
Nc Region North Carolina is divided into three regions Mountains, Piedmont, and Coastal, different plants thrive in these different regions.
Plant Type There are many different types of plants and some plants can be categorized by more than one type.
Problems Factors to consider when choosing a plant that may cause issues in the landscape depending on location and use.
Resistance To Challenges Concerns in the landscape and the environment to which a plant is particularly resistant to.
Soil Drainage How well water drains out of soil after a reasonable amount of time.
Soil Ph A measure of acidity or alkalinity in the soil that is optimum for plant growth.
Soil Texture The type of soil(s) that provide optimum growing conditions for the plant.
Stem Color The color of the stems and twigs of a plant.
Texture The perceived surface quality of the plant compared to other surrounding plants.
USDA Zone A geographically-defined zone which tells which plants are capable of growing defined by the plants' ability to withstand the zone's minimum temperatures.