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Tom's Wildflower Pages

So, you saw a wildflower today and you want to know its name.
You may just have come to the right place.
   The link below leads to a program intended to help users identify plants or wildflowers. It is a my adaptation of a program that has been available on the Web for some time that identifies plant families with specific traits.

Click here to identify a wildflower that you have seen.
(Identification of a plant genus with specific traits)
(With links to 1000's of images in CalPhotos)

But Wait!!
   If all you know about the flower is the color and the number of petals, you could have a tough time identifying it. I've been using Peterson Field Guide - Pacific States Wildflowers which is basicly organized by color and number of flower petals, and I've learned that those 2 characteristics by themselves are not usually enough. We need to study the rest of the plant`s structure - leaf arrangement, leaf shape, leaf patterns, etc. OK, go ahead and try the link now. You`ll see what I'm talking about.
   There are a couple of other plant identification programs available on the Web, but the problem with most of the programs I've seen is that they attempt to identify plant families with specific traits, and most single plant families have too many variations of traits. One of the better programs I recently discovered (June 2008) is available on the Web site of the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington in Seattle. I believe this system includes about 3,000 species that are found in the state of Washington. (I have those 3,000 + 7,000 more in mine, but I don't necessarily have traits assigned to all of them.)

UW Herbarium Identification Key

   Variations within a single plant genus are more limited.   Therefore, I have attempted to assign traits to about 400 genera found in the Peterson Field Guide.
   With my Web system, if the traits you have entered match one or more genera, you will see a screen with columns for genus name, number of species in CalPhotos, and the number of images in CalPhotos (not necessarily current). For most genera, the genus name is a link to ALL of the images in CalPhotos. For some genera, I've preselected an image for each species in CalPhotos and you will see only one photo for each species. These genera are marked with this little, red image: . ( See an example.) The column showing the number of species is always a link to a list of the species in CalPhotos, and each species name provides a link to images of that species in CalPhotos. And species is what you eventually want to identify. (The 400 genera with traits in my database link to about 4,500 species in CalPhotos.)

   You may find that some trait combinations do not yield any matching genera. That would be the result of the limited number of genera for which I've identified traits.

Practice Identifying Wildflowers

   The next link will take you to a set of pages that present you with a picture of a wildflower and 4 choices for identification. (Remember those multiple-choice tests you've taken?) I've found it helpful to step through a couple of rounds near the beginning of each flower season.

Practice identifying wildflowers

   I have been using 3 guides for identification.
       Peterson Field Guide - Pacific States Wildflowers   - T. Niehaus & C. Ripper   - Houghton Mifflin
       Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast   - J. Pojar & A. MacKinnon   - Lone Pine Publishing, Vancouver, BC
       Wayside Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest   - Dr. Dee Strickler   - The Flower Press, Columbia Falls, MT

Browse wildflowers that have been identified

Links to other Web sites featuring Oregon and West coast wildflowers