All the pretty flowers: Oregon app puts petals to the mettle

All the pretty flowers: Oregon app puts petals to the mettle »Play Video
Beargrass grows in Oregon's Cascade Range. The Oregon Wildflower app offers photographs, natural history, range maps and more for nearly 1000 plants. (Photo by Tanya Harvey)

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Have you ever been on an outdoor excursion in Oregon and wanted to know the name of the wildflowers around you?

There's now an app for that thanks to a team of botanists at the Oregon Flora Project at Oregon State University.

"Oregonians are typically very outdoorsy, often nature-loving people, and that's one of the things I love most about this state," said Stephen Meyers with the Oregon Flora Project.

"As a child, one of the things a child will always ask is what is that, what is that - and as adults I don't think we stop asking that."

The project 20 years in the making hit cyber shelves about 2 weeks ago.

"The mission for the Oregon Flora Project has always been to collect botanical knowledge and then share that knowledge with the public at large," said Stephen Meyers. "One of our goals is to present that information as such that it's not just pertinent to academics and profession botanists but also lay people."

"Plants touch our lives and everyone's lives in so many different ways," said Linda Hardison, director of the Oregon Flora Project, "so having sound scientific information can help policy makers, drive land management decisions, it aids in restoration."
 
Here's how it works:

You find a wildflower anywhere in the state of Oregon and hone in on its characteristics.

"As you pick characteristics, it hones down that initial list of 1,000 plants into one or several which the user can then use the photos given to identify the unknown plant," Meyers said.

It can take as fast as 30 seconds to pinpoint a name of that flower.

If you're doubtful, a picture to standby its accuracy also shows up.

The application is available for download at the Apple store, Google Play and Amazon.

From Pale baby blue yees to Smith's fairy lanterns, your new wildflower guide can now be found right under your fingertips.

"The beauty of this app is you do not need an internet connection or a phoneline connection in order to make it work. You can be in the middle of nowhere and this app will work," Meyer said. "In order to carry all the books necessary to identify 1,000 different plants in Oregon, you'd have to - it would weigh many many pounds and you simply couldn't carry it anywhere."