April 10, 2013

Burke Museum Herbarium launches new wildflower app

Burke Museum Communications

The “Washington Wildflowers” app, out this week, includes an identification key and information for more than 870 common wildflowers, shrubs and vines in Washington and adjacent areas of British Columbia, Idaho and Oregon.

Red wildflowers and mount in the background appear on a handheld device

UW Burke Museum/High Country Apps

The wildflower app splash page that appears as the application is loading.

The app for iOS, Android and Kindle mobile devices – complete with images, species names , range maps, bloom period and technical descriptions – was produced by the University of Washington Herbarium at the Burke Museum and the two authors of “Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest” with High Country Apps, a Montana-based company that creates mobile wilderness guides.

Designed for both budding wildflower enthusiasts and experienced experts, the app is for individuals who travel to wildflower areas and are interested in knowing the names and natural history of the plants they encounter. It’s primarily meant to be a plant identification tool, but it also provides educational information about ecological regions, plant communities and botanical terms.

The majority of species included are native, but introduced species common to the region are covered as well in order to expand the usefulness of the resource. Once downloaded, the app does not need an internet or network connection to run so you can use it no matter how remote your wanderings.

A free introductory version of the app that features 32 Washington wildflowers is available at stores and online outlets selling the full, 870-plant app for $7.99. A portion of revenues from the app supports conservation and botanical exploration in the region.

Mobile device displays pictures colors used for searching

UW Burke Museum/High Country Apps

There are nine ways to search for the identity of wildflowers including the four shown here.

“The number of species covered and wealth of information included sets a new standard for wildflower identification apps,” said David Giblin, collections manager of the herbarium.

Users can browse the species list by common or scientific name, or by family, to locate a plant and access the related information. However, most users will likely use the identification key that is the core of the app. Giblin and herbarium informatics specialist Ben Legler provided the technical data for the key including the scientific names, species distribution, whether each plant is native or an introduced, time of bloom and more.

The tool was inspired by the Burke Museum’s Plants of Washington Image Gallery, a comprehensive online image collection of the state’s plants and lichens.

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