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About the Plant Identification Aid

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To aid users of mobile devices as well as those with a mouse or laptop finger pad this site uses a simple image-based menu system. Virtually every picture you see (images and photos) are links to more information arranged in a sort of top-down structure. See an image, click or tap on it to open a new page.

This wild flower identification aid is for casual observers not botanists! It is based on my personal observations and photographs of wild flowers in Dorset and I make it available for general use subject to the guidance notes below. .


Instructions:

The wild flower identification aid presents you with four questions:

  1. What colour was the flower?
  2. What month did you see it?
  3. In what habitat was it growing?
  4. What family of plants does it belong to?

You can answer as many of these questions as you feel you can and the system will then present a grid of photographs for flowers that match the answers you have given. The more information you give the tighter the choices you will receive and you may find it is best to answer just two and look at the grid and then try a different combination of two answers and see if there are overlaps and some species occur in all combinations you use!

Answers to these questions can be very subjective and your perception may not natch mine and therefore be prepared to try different answers and different combinations of answers if you do not find what you are looking for with your first attempt. Take a while to read the 'Guidance Notes' below if you want to understand more about this.


Guidance Notes:

Scope:

This aid is based on MY observations in DORSET (England!) and as a result:

  • It will not be a comprehensive list, only those 550 or so species I have found and photographed
  • The data is Dorset based and may not be true for other counties in the United Kingdom but it may still be a useful tool for people living in other parts of the country
  • The data will be limited due to my abilities as an amatuer naturalist and a poor photographer!

Colour:

Identifying plants by the colour of their flower is fraught with difficulty! To botanists it is just one of many factors taken in to account in identifying a species but a casual observer will usually only notice one thing - the colour of the flower!  Here are some of the problems encountered identifying plants by flower colour alone:

  • People interpretations of a colour will vary undoubtedly vary. Men and women see colours differently, for example, and what I see as purple may be pink to others
  • Some plants occur in different colours. Bluebells and violets, for example commonly occur in white and so in this aid I have used only their more normal form
  • Some plants have multiple coloured flowers so I have tried to use the dominant colour in this aid
  • Flowers will have natural variations in colour depending on their age
  • Sometimes the soil can create variations in colour within the dame plant
  • Sometimes you will see sepals which are different colours to the petals and give the impression that the flowers are a different colour completely (especially the dock family)
  • Some flowers are so small it is difficult to see what colour they really are, especially low growing, creeping flowers
  • Within the same colour groups I have used there will be variable shades (for example yellow, lemon, gold, etc)
  • The light can affect the colour you see and, especially, the colour in a photograph (blues photograph poorly)

To compensate for this you may need to try different options under colour to find the flower you are looking for.

Visibility:

The months in which a plant flowers can be quite variable. 

  • Months I have used will reflect what happens here in Dorset in a usual year and this may not reflect the position elsewhere in the country
  • The months listed can vary each year weather (especially frost in autumn and early winter)
  • A plant in a sheltered, sunny position may flower much earlier than elsewhere

If you see a flower late in the year you may need to start searching in earlier months to find what you are looking for. Remember, in Dorset plants will flower much earlier than in the north.

Habitat:

Some plants only grow in specific habitats and conditions but other can be quite ubiquitous and grow in the most unlikely places! This can be as a result of diverse factors such as the dumping of garden rubbish in the countryside or perhaps a plant is a remnant of the way the habitat once was before being changed by human intervention. However, habitat is an important factor in species identification.

Family:

I appreciate that the casual observer may not readily know the characteristics of the family groups of our wild flowers but I have incuded it as a parameter as it is an essential part of wild flower identification and if the observer can select a family group then it will help.

Status:

I include this because statistically you are more likely to see a common flower than a rare one! The status is my opinion and based on my recording of a plants in Dorset.