There’s an “app” for that too. High Country Apps has developed an inexpensive ($5) mobile field guide called “Colorado Rocky Mountain Wildflowers.” Designed for the tablet, smartphone, or Kindle, the app functions without a phone signal and is well-suited to field use. Like a traditional field guide, it features color photos, drawings, descriptive information, range maps, and a key for identifying plants. It differs in the flexibility you have to construct your own plant lists or locate particular species, which you do by selecting parameters from a master list that includes size, habitat type, leaf shape, flower color, and status as a native, invasive, or noxious species, among many others. The resulting plant list changes as you modify your selections. To browse a plant list you tap a small photo of a species to reveal illustrations of that plant’s features and a range map, or you can choose to view full descriptive information and related facts about the species. Another useful feature is the ability to alphabetize the lists by common or scientific name or by family group. Picture quality and variety are good and the information is based on botanical authorities. Other educational features are diagrams of flower parts and leaf characteristics, a glossary of botanical terms, a description of plant families, and user help. The app can be updated as new information becomes available. The developers have plans to increase the app’s functionality for scientific field uses, including developing a field notes feature, a way to save user-built plant lists and log users’ photos with GPS location information, and the ability to output data. All told, the application features photos of 530 species of wildflowers, ferns, shrubs, and trees with an additional 150 species described but not illustrated. Coverage is from the foothills to alpine life zones throughout the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Wyoming, eastern Utah, and Montana. The developers have also released similar applications for wildflowers of the Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks regions and the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. They welcome feedback from users.
—Jeff Selleck, Editor
National Park Service. 2013. [Information Crossfile] Rocky Mountain Wildflowers. Park Science 29(2):13.
Available at http://www.nature.nps.gov/ParkScience/archive/PDF/Article_PDFs/ParkScience29(2)FallWinter2012-2013_13_Selleck_3634.pdf.