How would I call this kind of map / decision tree, typically used by scouts, to identify different kinds of trees, plants, mushrooms, birds, butterflies, etc.?

On every node, there is a yes/no question, and depending on the answer you go to one of the children nodes. You repeat this until you are in a leaf node which gives you the name of the thing you are identifying.

I have tried searching for images with {mushroom, tree, bird} {classification, identification} {tree, map, [search] card} [scouts] but haven't been able to find anything in English, so I think there is some idiomatic expressing that I'm missing. The below image is in Dutch, found by the term "zoekkaart" (search card/map).

Example sentence: "Follow the directions on the X to {identify, classify} the observed item."

enter image description here

2 Answers 2


This is called a dichotomous key.

  • Thanks very much. Is that also the word kids would use for it, or do you know of a simpler alternative?
    – user44368
    Dec 6, 2017 at 22:13
  • @Keelan Maybe something like identification key or identification tree? Dec 6, 2017 at 22:31
  • 1
    This is the correct answer for this kind of decision tree. I think even elementary-age kids would know the term if they have had a teacher who had done a lesson on it. teachingchannel.org/videos/dichotomous-key
    – JLG
    Dec 7, 2017 at 3:11
  • I've usually heard this referred to simply as a key by botanists.
    – tchrist
    Dec 7, 2017 at 3:18
  • @tchrist Sure, the dichotomous simply means divided into two branches (i.e. at each yes/no node) Dec 7, 2017 at 4:54

A more general term for such a thing could be a flowchart:

a diagram that shows step-by-step progression through a procedure or system especially using connecting lines and a set of conventional symbols
from m-w.com

Using that term instead of your {tree, map, [search] card} element got me what I think is a very promising set of results...

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