New edition of plant identification software released

Aug 31, 2012 by Alex Koma
New edition of plant identification software released
John Peterson (left) and John Seiler collaborated on the third edition of the Woody Plants in North America multimedia tutorial.

A pair of researchers from the College of Natural Resources and Environment recently released the third edition of Woody Plants in North America, an interactive multimedia tutorial for woody plant identification. The DVD-based program contains a staggering 23,000 photographs and includes information on 920 native and ornamental plants.

The program was designed to help students hone their skills in identifying trees and woody plants found across North America. With its unprecedented number of color photographs as well as detailed descriptions of leaves, flowers, twigs, bark, and plant forms, the software is a for students and practitioners, as well as individuals interested in plant identification. Users can identify different plant species by region, taxonomy, common name, and scientific name, or compare similar-looking species side by side.

The software's quiz function is particularly beneficial, allowing users to test themselves on both identifying specific species and recognizing the different parts of each type of plant. Full-color fact sheets on each species can be printed for further study or use in the field.

The software was developed over a 15-year period by Alumni Distinguished Professor John Seiler and laboratory specialist John Peterson of the Department of and . The late Peter Feret, a professor in the department, obtained a U.S. Challenge Grant to fund the project initially; Seiler and Peterson were tapped to continue Feret's work. The pair has collaborated with Professor Ed Jensen of Oregon State University, who is a co-author on the project, as well as researchers from The Pennsylvania State University and the University of Georgia to compile the program's vast collection of photographs.

According to Seiler, the new edition represents a large improvement from its predecessors. "We constantly listen to student feedback. The whole navigation system is easier, there are dozens of new species and thousands of new photographs, and many poor photographs have been replaced," explained Seiler, who is also the Honorable and Mrs. Shelton H. Short Jr. Professor of Forestry.

Seiler and Peterson, recipients of a Virginia Tech XCaliber Award for their exceptional contributions
to technology-enriched teaching and learning, count this project as an extremely successful endeavor. "We get a lot of unsolicited email thanking us," Seiler said. "We've heard from arborists and other professionals who used the program to study for their certification exam and write to thank us for this resource."

In fact, the program has been so successful that Seiler and Peterson are in the process of developing an Android application based on the software. The app uses a cell phone's GPS technology to pinpoint where the user is located and narrow down options for plants that are native to the area. "This is going to be a really big deal," Seiler said. "There's no product like this in existence."

Explore further: Citizen scientists match research tool when counting sharks

More information: www.kendallhunt.com/store-product.aspx?id=25400

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Allergies ahead of schedule in Eastern United States

Mar 23, 2012

(HealthDay) -- The unusually warm spring weather in New York and other parts of the eastern United States has trees and other plants blooming much earlier than normal, which could mean a long and intense allergy ...

Naming new plant species moves online

Feb 01, 2012

There are more than 380,000 plant species known to science, with many more around the world still to be found, identified and scientifically named. But this mighty task will now be more efficient for ...

Recommended for you

Citizen scientists match research tool when counting sharks

11 hours ago

Shark data collected by citizen scientists may be as reliable as data collected using automated tools, according to results published April 23, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Gabriel Vianna from The University of Wes ...

Researchers detail newly discovered deer migration

18 hours ago

A team of researchers including University of Wyoming scientists has documented the longest migration of mule deer ever recorded, the latest development in an initiative to understand and conserve ungulate ...

How Australia got the hump with one million feral camels

19 hours ago

A new study by a University of Exeter researcher has shed light on how an estimated one million-strong population of wild camels thriving in Australia's remote outback have become reviled as pests and culled ...

Former Iron Curtain still barrier for deer

Apr 23, 2014

The Iron Curtain was traced by an electrified barbed-wire fence that isolated the communist world from the West. It was an impenetrable Cold War barrier—and for some inhabitants of the Czech Republic it ...

Humpback protections downgrade clears way for pipeline

Apr 22, 2014

Environmentalist activists on Tuesday decried Canada's downgrading of humpback whale protections, suggesting the decision was fast-tracked to clear a major hurdle to constructing a pipeline to the Pacific ...

Maine baby lobster decline could end high catches

Apr 22, 2014

Scientists say the number of baby lobsters settling off the rocky coast of Maine continues to steadily decline—possibly foreshadowing an end to the recent record catches that have boosted New England's lobster fishery.

User comments : 0

More news stories