A Wild Flower Identification Application


I have written the text for an application (app.) which can be downloaded to an Apple iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch or for Android devices. The Application is called WildFlowerId by a company called Isoperla and can be found in the Apple App store (£2.69 in November 2014) or Google app store (£2.99 in 2014).

There are about 350 flowers so far described each of which has photos often of the flower, the leaves and the whole plant. The application is downloadable which means that it is complete on whichever device you have and doesn't need the internet or a telephone connection to work. The most convenient devices would obviously be iPod touch or a mobile Phone because these can be carried in a pocket.

The flower photos and descriptions are accessible by various means. They are arranged in families so that if you know the plant is a member of the Daisy (or Asteraceae) family that is clickable as a group. But all plants are listed alphabetically in order of English name or Latin (you can choose) as well.


However if you haven't a clue what the plant is you can go to the identification screen.

This allows you to put in what information you know about the plant just from observing it. The more information you can put in the better guess it will make about the identity of the plant but unlike binary keys in botanical books where you theoretically follow through to an absolute identification, this uses Bayesian statistical methods to give probabilities and gives several answers. In other words this app assumes you won't be able to answer all the questions accurately - which is much more realistic.


The most probable isn't necessarily the correct one but if you've filled in the data and the plant is described in the app, then it will probably be there somewhere and you can check out the description and photos with what you actually see. There are usually several photos for each plant.

The individual species can be seen occupying the whole of the screen and expanded in the usual way with mobile devices so that more detail can be seen.

This application is not aimed at experienced botanists but at beginners an those who would like to know, however roughly, what the name of that wild flower they've just found, actually is. Botanical language is kept to a minimum and only the commonest flowers are described. More plants will be added in the next months but the maximum file size imposed on app designers limits the total number of flowers which can be added.

There are other features such as the ability to record the position of your botanical find (it uses the GPS chip which is present in most devices) or do a quiz to test your improving knowledge. Currently the Apple version has sold over 6,000 copies and receives good reviews from users.

I would love us to add to this application to allow it to contain a more comprehensive list of British plants but there's a snag: WildflowerID is already at the file size limit permitted by Apple and Android. In other words we would have to reduce the numbers of photos or decrease the resolution to make space for new plants and that would make the application less attractive and far less useful. Perhaps when memory and computational power increase in a future iPhone 9.0, Apple will increase the permissible file size for small firm designers but until then the numbers of plants will have to remain at about 350.

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