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What’s This? Make Searching Rainforest Flowers Easier

Bromeliad sp? Photo © Lisa Feldkamp / The Nature Conservancy

I routinely find plants while hiking or birding that I haven’t noticed before. Since I know next to nothing about most of these species, searching for an identification can be infuriating. I turn to iNaturalist, an amazing community that has taught me many species. Nevertheless, some photos, especially those that are rare or found outside of the United States, remain unidentified — like the bromeliad above.

Conservationists face the same problem when they find an unfamiliar plant in the field. They may slog through thousands of photos or spend some quality time with a field guide before identifying a match.

It would be so much easier if people could search for plants starting with the things they know, like flower color, fruit color, and similar visual traits.

That’s why The Field Museum needs your help on Rainforest Flowers. They have collected nearly 30,000 photos of more than 10,000 plant species. These photos could be a powerful tool for rainforest conservation… if people can find the information that they need when they need it.

Photos © Robin B. Foster. Left to Right: Passiflora coccinea, Prosthechea cochleata, Nymphaeaceae sp.

Rainforest Flowers shows you a photo and asks you a series of simple questions. Is there a flower? What color is it? Your answers to these questions will be used to make the search function on the new version of Live Plant Photos, launching soon, better. People will be able to search by flower and fruit color and by other plant parts.

You can participate entirely online and it takes less than minute to answer questions for each photo. It’s as easy as clicking on classify, reading through a brief tutorial, and enjoying the beautiful flower photography while you help save the rainforest.

Pro tip: if you want to learn more about the plants in Rainforest Flowers, click the information (i) button at the bottom right corner under the image to learn the genus and species name.

Photos © Robin B. Foster. Left to Right: Epidendrum radicans, Aristolochia cordiflora, Heliconia chartacea
Lisa Feldkamp

Lisa loves all things citizen science and enjoys learning about everything that goes on four legs, two wings or fins - she even finds six and eight-legged critters fascinating at a safe distance. She has a PhD in Classical Literature and Languages from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and enjoys reading Greek and Roman literature or talking about mythology in her spare time. More from Lisa

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