CSU Ext – Teller County: Coloradoans now have an app to help identify trees, shrubs, and woody plants
CSU announces the launch of the new CO Woody Plants mobile app, available for free on iOS, Android, and Google Play
(Fort Collins, CO) A group of Colorado State University faculty and Extension specialists have created a free shrub and tree identification mobile app called CO Woody Plants. With the launch of the app, Colorado’s wide-range of shrubs, trees, cacti, and woody plants are easier to identify than ever.
What kind of shrub is this?
Mark J. Platten, Teller County Extension Director, came up with the original idea for the app after noticing how often he would receive phone calls to his office with a similar question – “what kind of shrub/tree is this?” After searching for a resource that he could send curious Coloradoans to no avail, Platten decided to take matters into his own hands.
Working alongside Platten were Brian Kailey, Logan County Extension Director, Susan Carter, Deryn Davidson, Boulder County Horticulture Agent, and Deryn Davidson, Tri River Area Horticulture Agent. This team started with a series of YouTube videos which were released three years ago with the aim to help citizens identify their native conifers. After sharing the video resources with community members, the team continued looking for additional solutions that could allow people to search for a plant based on characteristics. They landed on the idea for a mobile app and knew that further collaboration would be needed to get the idea off the ground.
Working together with CSU Extension, the Colorado State Forest Service, the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, and Warner College of Natural Resources, Platten and team identified Kevin Brown, CSU Research Software Facility Director, that would be able to incorporate the various features needed to make identifying plants quick and easy. Two years later, the CO Woody Plants app was launched.
The core developers included Kailey, Megan Matonis, Colorado State Forest Service, Barbara Fahey, Extension Native Plant Master Program Director, and Michael Menefee, Environmental Review Coordinator at the Colorado National Heritage Program.
Feature of the app
In addition to a comprehensive library of plant knowledge, the CO Woody Plants app features an innovative search platform that allows the user to search by plant characteristics or name, as well as a favorites section to flag plant data that is most relevant.
One of Platten’s favorite features of the app is the ability to download plant data to allow searchability in offline locations without cellular connection. The offline data feature was a critical component of the app.
“The App is a great tool for someone hiking through the forest who wants to know what woody plant they’ve come across, even when there isn’t reception” said Platten. “It will enhance the user’s knowledge of the woody plant species around their property or on their favorite trail, which inevitably leads to them sharing their newfound knowledge with others.”
Education in your palm
The ‘plant characteristics’ screen uses visual icons to guide the user through a series of choices to narrow down the possible plants. Once the choices are identified, the user clicks on the results and can browse through photos and descriptions, including a map of which counties each plant is known to be present.
These features open up a world of possibility for the app, including being a handy tool for educators. “The app is also designed for the natural resource professional who may know which plant family they are dealing with but might not recognize the specific species” said Platten. “Since the App is so flexible, it can be used for educating in the field in programs like Extension’s Native Plant Master program and beyond.”
Download the app today on iOS, Android, or Google Play by searching “CO Woody Plant”.
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Written and submitted to The BARN by:
Director of Communications