There’s an ‘app’ for that!

© 2017-Sublette Examiner

“What is this plant?”

Have you ever been out looking at a beautiful landscape with thousands of different species of flowers, trees and shrubs and wondered what kind of flowers are those? What is that grass?

We could carry a lot of plant books; however, that can sometimes be time-consuming when you are limited on time – not to mention heavy. Thankfully, there is the use of technology, like something as small as our smartphones.

There are millions of apps on the smartphone that we can utilize for the outdoors. One of the most useful apps for anyone who has a passion for exploring all the different plant species is the Wyoming Wildflower app. There are only a handful of plants I have memorized for my job as a range technician, but I am still learning about new plants every day. Many of the plants have similar appearances and color to them. The hardest to identify are the grasses because there is an abundance of different grass species that look so much alike.
The Wyoming Wildlife app helps key out the different characteristics of the plant you want to identify. Free of charge and a quick download to your smartphone, you are on your way to becoming a pro at identifying different species of plants.

On the menu of the app, there are several pictures and colors to choose from. Currently there are 3,354 plants that have been put into the app. First, you identify the plant by what kind it is wildflower, shrub, conifer (forest trees), other trees (like maple trees), vine, cactus, aquatic (like water lilies), grasses, ferns, moss or lichen. Then you identify the color of the plant and count how many petals there are on the flower. Identifying the arrangement of the leaves narrows down the list of plants and there are pictures that show the different arrangements of leaves.

The kind of habitat where you find the plant is important in identifying the plant as well. There are some plants that are only found in a specific habitat because they thrive in that kind of soil, or have to have a specific amount of water. The chemistry of the soil makes some areas more ideal for plants than others.
For example, the shrubby cinquefoil (Dasiphoria fructicosa) is found in riparian habitat. Riparian is an area where there is flowing water or springs that produce moisture year around for these shrubs to thrive in. Whereas scarlet globemallow (Spaeralcea coocinea) is found in the desert and only blooms in the springtime. The Wyoming Wildflower app describes the different habitat types and gives pictures of each habitat.

Another important piece of information to know is location, where are you in the state of Wyoming? North, west, east, south? The app shows a map that shows where the plant is most commonly found across the state of Wyoming. Along with the map is a detailed description of the plant species you are searching for.

And it will tell you if the plant is edible or not. There are also additional photos of the plant species from different angles. When you want to search another plant species, you just click on the “reset” button. There is also a spot where you can put in the time and place. It takes you to a map of Wyoming and you select the city and correlate the city to the elevation and observation time. This narrows it down to what plant species have been identified within the area. If you already know the plant’s name, you just simply have to click on the info button and click on search by plant name.

Not only is this app useful for knowing the different kinds of species out there on the landscape, it is also very useful for identifying the different grasses, forbs and shrub species being grazed on by livestock and wildlife. This makes it easier for permitees, along wiht other people working range, wildlife and fisheries-related jobs.

As long as you have the app downloaded on to your phone, you should have no problem identifying all the wonderful plant species out there.

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