The back sides, front sides and side views of plants and animals sometimes are the key to identification. Indeed it can help you get to a family or even to a key element that will nail your identification to species. Which side just depends on each species. So try to get all the angles and it may lead you to an identification. Additionally it may lead you to a better understanding of whatever you are studying.

Back side of the Narrow-leaf Morning Glory! In this instance, notice the funnel shape of the flower.

First you must move very slowly as you inch your way up to an insect. Clicking your photo at each step for you do not know when you will be invading the insect’s space. Then pick your best shot. For this example, the back side is enough. However, with dragonflies, a side view or a face view may help with your ID. This is a female Eastern Pondhawk.

Green on green makes it hard to spot the Greater Angle-wing Katydid (Microcentrum rhombifolium).

A close up might be necessary for the ID and at all times I think it lets you appreciate the beauty of it.

In this instance, a Plains Sunflower (Helianthus petiolaris) can be easy to ID from the front if it has the white center. However not all of them have it.

The phyllaries (the green leafy things under the petals) are a characteristic of flowers in the Asteraceae or Compositae family. Look at the shape, hairy-ness, and are they tight. This is the back side of the Plains Sunflower.

Here we have the Hairy Sunflowers (Helianthus hirsutus).

Now compare the Hairy Sunflower back side to the Plains Sunflower. This one’s phyllaries are longer and more spread out.

And the front side has yellow disk flowers (center). The petals are the ray flowers.

This has nothing to do with any side unless I can say it was at the side of road on a bridge. The American Lotus was in this pool.

This treefrog was at the side of road too. It could be either a Gray or Cope’s treefrog. In this case, no visual view can let you know which it is. You would have to look at the chromosomes to get it to species.

Finally, another just a side of the road view. These are Mountain Pinks (Centaurium beyrichii). The yellowish on the left side are finished blooming. In the final analysis, you should try to get all sides. 🙂

Restoring Landscapes: Milkweed and Monarch Butterfly Restoration in the Chickasaw Nation

Keep looking!


  1. That may be the prettiest angle for those morning glories. Gorgeous.
    Thanks for the lessons and yay for the tree frog. Down here we apparently have the Cope’s and I took the word of the experts on that from its range.
    but what no ID on the little bee fly creature or the ants?
    Oh and now I feel bad stepping on and mashing that katydid this morning. Wow what intricate markings!

  2. Mary, another great article. I followed the link to the “Milkweed and Monarch Butterfly Restoration in the Chickasaw Nation” website. I found it engaging and informative. I like the way the “pages” scroll from section to section. I don’t recall seeing this approach before.

    Other readers: It’s worth your time to check it out.

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