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Tree Key

Time Frame:
1 class period that runs 70 minutes.

Group Size:


In this activity students will use a dichotomous key to identify native Utah conifers

Main Curriculum Tie:
Science - Biology
Standard 5 Objective 3

Classify organisms into a hierarchy of groups based on similarities that reflect their evolutionary relationships.


  • Key to native conifers sheet (attached)
  • student worksheet (attached)
  • tree pictures (attached)
  • collected samples of conifers from the following: Limber, Ponderosa, Lodgepole, or Pinyon Pines; Douglas, Sub-Alpine, or White Firs; Englemann or Blue Spruces; Common, Utah, or Rocky Mountain Junipers.)


Instructional Procedures:

  1. Collect samples of a few native Utah conifers. You may want to collect multiple samples of each conifer if you have a large class. Label them with numbers or letters.
  2. Make copies of the tree pictures and protect in plastic. Make at least one for each tree or two to make sure students can get a new one when they are ready.
  3. Pass out the student sheet, keys and a picture to each group of 2 students.
  4. Read the introduction with the students and have them begin the identification. Check their work as they start.
  5. Tell students they are now to identify the 12 samples using their key
  6. When the students are done, hand out the real samples and ask them to identify them.
  7. Go over the correct names and make sure students understand where they got off track.

Key to pictures:

  1. pinyon pine
  2. lodge pole pine
  3. blue spruce
  4. white fir
  5. ponderosa pine
  6. common juniper
  7. Engleman spruce
  8. Limber pine
  9. Utah juniper
  10. subalpine fir
  11. Rocky Mt. Juniper
  12. Douglas Fir

Lesson Design by Jordan School District Teachers and Staff.

Utah LessonPlans

Created Date :
Dec 08 2014 12:12 PM