To identify an unknown flowering shrub, consider the size and shape of the leaves and the color, size and shape of the flower. Use these characteristics to search for a match in a plant database or consult an expert at a nearby garden center or nature preserve. To locate databases of plants likely to grow in the area, consult state agriculture organizations, nearby nature preserves or local university extension programs.
Leaves have a variety of characteristics that enable them to be differentiated from the leaves of other plants. Specific characteristics to look for include the arrangement of the leaves on a branch, the size and direction of the leaf's veins, the shape of the leaf and its texture. Also consider the color of leaf, which can vary between shades of greens and reds.
In addition to their leaves, the flowers on flowering shrubs offer further opportunity to identify the type of plant. Flowers are typically categorized based upon their color, the time of year at which they flower, the number and shape of the petals and the orientation of the petals around center.
In addition to flower and leaf characteristics, the location of the shrub, the type of soil it grows and the times of year when it is either growing or dormant can aid identification.