functions of the key

The "best characters" pane (top left) shows the characters required for separating the remaining taxa. The number of these characters is shown in parenthesis. The number of characters depends on the choice of the character subset (maximum 128 characters).
The "remaining taxa" pane (top right) shows the taxa at the current stage of identification (at the start, all of them). There appear all taxa with the selected character combination. In addition, at the end of determination path you can find the identified taxon there.
The "used characters" pane (down right) shows the chosen character states.
The "eliminated taxa" pane (down left) shows only the taxa that are incompatible with the entered information resp. the information of the "used characters" pane.
The boundaries between the panes are not fixed, so you can move them to make e.g. the taxon names completely readable.

function of the buttons (left)
In the following part the functions of the buttons above the "best character" pane (top left) is described.

= Use a subset of characters
The identification begins with the choice of the character subset, by clicking on "use a subset of characters". Before the identification begins, choose a character subset in order to remove useless characters. It is possible to choose any character subset and combination of characters. Testing the key has shown that the following four subsets were frequently used:
1. "all without supplements": This group is the best choice if there are specimens with all characters available, because this group contains all characters except the supplements (which are trivial for the identification).
2. "best characters": This is the most frequently used group. This group contains well-identificable characters, generative as well as vegetative. In addition, uncertain characters of male cones are excluded. For this group you need a female cone and branchlet because they were not completely revised.
3. "vegetative features": This group contains only vegetative characters. A lot of taxa are identificable by vegetative characters. If it is not possible to identify a taxon exactly, it is possible to limit the possible results to a small group of taxa.
4. "female cone s.l.": This group contains only characters from female cones and seeds.

= order of characters
It is possible to choose between two different orders of characters for the identification.
= Natural order
The first configuration is called "natural order". This order follows the order of usual species descriptions. This choice is only useful if you search for a special character. Click on it to activate it. If the icon is light grey, the configuration is active.
= Best order
The second configuration is called "best order". The characters are arranged in descending order by their separating power and reliability of use. This configuration is useful for rapid identification. Very few characters are (logically) dependent characters. Clicking on one of those, one gets first the character from which it depends.

choice of characters
Click on the selected character to choose it. It is useful to begin with the top character in the configuration "best order". If there is no information available for the character, skip it and choose the next character below.

choice of character states
Choose the character state by double-clicking on it or by entering a value. If it makes sense, it is possible to enter rational numbers (e.g. 2.3). It is also possible to choose more than one character state. However, it doesn't make sense to choose all character states, because it is the same as if you choose nothing! In addition, it is possible to enter the character state amplitude (e.g. 3-5). The wider the character state amplitude, the worse is the group separated and the identification takes more time, thus it is advisable to enter a value as precisely as possible. It is always possible to change the enter by a re-click on the appropriate character (the character appears now in the "used characters" pane (down right)).

= Restart identification
Restart the identification by clicking on it.

= Find text in characters
Find terms within characters by clicking on it.

= Set error tolerance
The error tolerance enhances the reliability of correct identification. Set error tolerance by clicking on it, and enter an integer number (1, 2, 3 …). The "tolerance = 1 (= 2)" means if you make 1 (2) mistake(s) and there are at least 2 (3) differences between the specimen and all other taxa, you will get the correct taxon name. If you set the error tolerance higher you enhance the likelihood the correct identification, but also the length of determination. Some taxa differ from other similar taxa only by one character, for these taxa it is useless to set an error tolerance.

= Difference between specimen and the remaining taxa
If you are interested in differences between the specimen and the remaining taxa, click on "difference between specimen and the remaining taxa". The number of differences depends on the selected character subset. The choice of character states is partly supported by character photos.

The choice of characters is supported by notes, select it by clicking on it. The notes contain e.g. synonyms and/or short explanatory text. Additionally, you get information about the recognisability of characters. Furthermore, you get information if the character is applicable for determination of herbarium specimens or cultivars.

function of the buttons (right)
In the following part the functions of the buttons above the "remaining taxa" pane (top right) is described.
= Information about taxa
For each taxon it is possible to receive a description by clicking on "information about taxa".

= Difference between taxa
If you are interested in differences between selected taxa, mark the taxa (Strg + left mouse button) and click on "difference between taxa".

= Use a subset of the taxa
Click on "use a subset of the taxa" and select a genus by clicking on it. Than you can start the identification on the genus level.

= Find text in taxon names
Click on "find text in taxon names" to search for information within taxon names (e.g. for the species epithet "rhomboidea").