Now that you are home from your trip, you are going through your photos, reliving the memories. You find that you have some good photos of wildflowers
. Maybe you could add them to the EO Wildflowers
database and share them with other wildflower enthusiasts. This blog will hopefully get you started on the never-ending journey of learning about and sharing wildflowers
online via the EO Wildflowers
Sharing photos and information about wildflowers
I have tried to set out this blog from the point of view of someone who has some good photos to share, but limited technical knowledge about Australian wildflowers
and how they are identified and named. The sequence of steps that I have outlined are:
1. Selecting and preparing your photos.
2. Identifying your Wildflower.
3. What if you can’t identify your plant?
4. How to make a new wildflower post.
5. Making a post with a positive identification6.
6. Contributing information to the Wildflowers
1. Selecting and preparing your photos.
Many of us who take photos of wildflowers
usually find that we never have the exact photo that we want – the one that shows the critical feature of the flower that enables a positive identification. Despite that, good quality photos, easily achieved with modern digital cameras, take us a long way towards wildflower identification, and give much pleasure too.
Hopefully the Wildflowers
Database will, over time, gather images of not just the flowers, but of the buds and seed pods, bark, leaves and the whole plant.
Seed pods, buds, leaves all help to identify a plant
So it is worthwhile uploading even a single image if that is the only shot you have – it may show some quite significant detail about that plant.
Assuming you have a selection of images, select the ones to upload and crop and adjust/edit as necessary. During this stage you can crop excessive background and maybe improve contrast and brightness. (When modifying an image, we always “Save As” to a new filename so as to retain our original unmodified photo.) Resize to about 800 x 600 pixels for faster uploading.
2. Identifying your Wildflower.
Maybe before posting you want to have a go at identifying your wildflower using what books or websites you can find. Depending on how much time you have, online searches can be rewarding as there is now a vast amount of wildflower information online. You can search for wildflowers
from the location where your photo was taken, or using a common name. It can also be worthwhile looking through Facebook wildflower groups.
Looking through the wildflowers
that are already posted in the Wildflowers
section might help. But how do you search the database if you don’t have a name for your wildflower? There are a couple of options to help get you started.
Searching for Families
You could look through all the wildflowers
or the list of Families to see if there is already a wildflower that looks a bit like yours. Click “All Wildflowers
” at the top of the list of Families to get a list of all the wildflowers
listed so far. Note that although the Family names are not underlined they are still clickable – click on a Family and you will be given a list of all the genera in that family that have been posted. In the same way you can click on a genus name and see what species have been posted.
Or you could use the search box, searching on features like the common name, colour of your flower, its form (herb, shrub, tree, vine etc) or where you took the photo.
Search on any word
Remember that, as with all EO pages, every word that is underlined is a clickable link, a handy shortcut that makes it easy to navigate throughout the site.
3. If you are not able to find a name for your plant you can still add your photos to the Wildflowers database.
However, rather than adding your photos to a post of similar looking flowers that may turn out to be a different species, it is better to make a new post. Your photos, together with whatever information you do have, will enable others to identify your plant and come up with a name. It is not a problem if we happen to end up with a duplicate post for that particular species.
4. Making a new post.
To make a new post click on the blue “Add New Wildflower” button to open up the entry screen. There you will notice that there are only two mandatory fields. These are “Wildflower or Common Name” and “Main Flower Colour”. The colour selection is easy as there is a drop-down menu to choose from, including the choice of “other” if your flower has many colours or is an unusual shade. In the “Wildflower or Common Name” box, while your best guess is preferred, you can in fact put anything: “Micks yellow flower”, “Unknown wildflower”, “help me identify this” – Let your imagination (and discretion) be your guide.
But please don’t stop there. You have more useful information about the plant that will certainly assist others to identify it. You, your passengers, your camera and/or GPS know when and where you took the photo. Try to describe the whole plant too – was it a tree, a shrub or vine or herb? How big (roughly) were the flowers and leaves? What was the area like where it was growing – forest, desert, rocky, sandy. The more reasonably accurate information you can enter into the description box the better. Have a look at some other posts to see what sort of detail can be added, but don’t worry if you come across some very technical sounding words – plain English is fine.
Completed wildflower entry screen with mandatory fields highlighted
Finally, record the approximate location of your plant in the “Location Description” box. Include the locality and the state, remembering that not all of us share your familiarity with your favourite wildflower area. Also mark the region on the map. To do this use the +/- buttons on the map to zoom into the map, then click in the approximate location where you took your photo. To protect the location of rare and threatened species the map only uses IBRA regions of the country rather than specific locations. (More information on the IBRA system is available at http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/land/national-reserve-system/science-maps-and-data/australias-bioregions-ibra
Finally, click “save” which will add your contribution to the database. The final step is to add your photos. Click the “Add Photos and Files button” and follow the prompts to select the first photo that you want to upload. Make use of the option of adding a caption or further information to your photo eg where and when it was taken. Repeat for the remaining photos. You can then use the star ranking system to select the photo you would like to be displayed initially – start by clicking half a star to select the display photo.
5. If you have a positive identification for your plant you are now ready to add your plant to the Wildflowers database, following the same steps described above.
There are a few additional points to consider. If someone else has already made a post for that same Genus and species you have the option to simply add your photos. Remember to add some information as captions to your photos, eg when and where they were taken. Other observations or questions can be added to the comments section.
If you prefer to make a new post please be careful with the spelling of all scientific or Latin names. Incorrect spelling confuses the search facility. Spaces are also a problem so be careful not to leave a space before or after the Family, Genus and species names (and being invisible spaces are hard to spot
Add as much information as you can into the description. It’s quite acceptable to search online for more information, but make sure that any description that you paste in does actually match the plant features shown in the photo. Better still try to describe the plant that you actually saw and the features that appear in your photos. If you appear to run out of space as you enter your description just pull down the lower RH corner of the data entry box.
The “Identification” box is where we can record those plant features that allow us to make a positive identification of that particular wildflower.
Some plants have had a long history of indigenous and/or European use, so any available information or links to other websites can be listed in the “Uses” box.
The “References” box is where we can list the books or websites that we used to confirm the name we have given to the wildflower. Make sure that links you post to other websites actually work. Remember to add the author’s name to book titles. These references allow others to double-check our naming and build credibility into the site and database. We can also build a list of web addresses, or even plan additions to our library (think Birthday and Christmas lists) by browsing through the publications that are most commonly used.
6. Contributing information to the Wildflowers Section.
Even if you don’t have photos to contribute you may still be able to assist with plant identification or with additional information or common names used in particular localities. Any additional information can be added via the comments section, and from there the administrators can add it to the relevant part of the database. Remember that the whole section can be searched, and can be navigated via underlined words.
Finally, apart from personal interest, it’s reasonable to ask whether all this effort has any practical benefit or value. The answer is yes it does. One example - not long after the Wildflowers
database started, a new location of an endangered species was identified by an EO member who spotted the wildflower in an apparently new and unrecorded location from photos of the plant and information posted as described above. They passed the information on to an officer in the relevant state department so that the site location could be recorded. (As with all postings to the EO database exact locations are not given to protect those special plants from unwanted attention.) Doubtless there are other examples. EO members each year cover vast areas of often remote country so there is a high likelihood that they will come across new plants or plants not recorded in particular locations. All those pieces of information add to the understanding, protection and preservation of our unique and beautiful Australian flora.
So now - who will be the first to make a new post?