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A: With FloraQuest, you can identify plants in a diversity of technical and less technical ways, which allows you to learn about the native and naturalized flora of the region. While AI-driven identification tools like Seek and iNaturalist are revolutionary and useful, they have limitations in their identification and teaching capabilities. Very small or subtle features such as a plant’s hairiness or floral parts can be hard for an AI-driven application to pick up on, and because these applications quickly spit out an identification for you, there can be less learning and skill-building on your part. We have developed FloraQuest to be an accurate identification tool that helps you explore and learn about local plants while also teaching you how to identify them!
A: FloraQuest is more than just an app; it is part of a set of flora tools developed by the Flora of the Southeastern United States Project (FSUS). This app pulls from the FSUS central database, and is a citable, scientific flora covering all or parts of 25 states in the eastern United States. In addition to providing traditional flora information, the app also includes tens of thousands of photos, detailed synonymy and references to taxonomic literature, and various dichotomous and graphic key features not offered in the FSUS web app or flora PDF. Unlike the FSUS web app or more traditional flora PDF, you can use FloraQuest without an internet connection, like a remote location full of interesting plants!
A: Our five regional apps, FloraQuest: Northern Tier being the first, will be updated and improved in coming years with taxonomic changes, supplemental data and photos for each FSUS species, and additional technical features. Once you purchase FloraQuest, you’ll get functionality and data updates automatically.
A: Yes! The FloraQuest app features tens of thousands of high-quality plant photos as well as a graphic key to assist you in identification (ID). Specifically, the graphic key allows you to choose from a set of characters with specific options within each category to narrow down your ID options. For instance, by choosing the major plant group (ferns, grasses, orchids, etc...) and a small set of botanical characters (leaf arrangement, growth form, etc...), you can scroll through a narrowed list of ID options and access more technical botanical information to make a more informed decision on your plant identification. See below for further explanation.
A: Yes, you can customize your geographic range in FloraQuest: Northern Tier! FloraQuest can be configured to focus on a state or portion of a state, in which the app shows you only plant species that are reported to occur in that area when making identifications. You can customize your flora geography from 11 states and the various ecological provinces within. For instance, botanists located within eastern Kentucky, southern New Jersey, or southeastern Virginia can all customize their apps and narrow their options for more efficient plant identification.
Click the config gear icon in the upper right of the main app screens:
Then choose by state or subregions within states, the latter is shown below. You can also toggle all locations on or off with "Select All/None."
I want to select only the Piedmont of Virginia, so I Clicked all off as shown above, then scrolled to Virginia and selected Piedmont. You can select more than one location too.
Now when I search for plants or look at keys or use the graphic key, FloraQuest will show only items relevant to my selected location(s).
A: No! The Graphic Key feature allows you to make plant identifications by choosing from a list of simple botanical characters to narrow down your options. This feature provides an alternative to traditional dichotomous keys, which can often include lots of technical botanical terms. Where more technical terms are used, you can click on the term to see its definition. You can find these definitions in the app’s glossary to assist in your learning and use of more technical identification tools and terms.
A: The Flora of the Southeastern United States is the combination of three major products: the PDF floras, the FSUS web app, and the FloraQuest mobile app. Each product contains some unique features. The FloraQuest app is the only component of the Flora to include a Graphic Key, geographic on-the-fly customization, and hyperlinked dichotomous keys linked to an extensive glossary. Unlike the web app, FloraQuest works without an internet connection, so you can take the Flora to places where internet connectivity is poor or non-existent. Alan Weakley and the Southeastern Flora Team will continue to bring accessible and affordable botanical resources to botanists, naturalists, and biologists across the Southeastern United States. Stay tuned for upcoming app releases for the four remaining regions of the FSUS!
A: Yes, here’s an example:
I’m in the Virginia Piedmont, and saw this plant:
In the new FloraQuest app I decided to use the graphic key which I can access from the second icon at the bottom of the screen.
I can either begin the graphic key by seeing a menu of plant groups, or skip to the graphic key if I already know what group the plant is in. Here, I chose to walk through the full process:
FloraQuest shows me the groups of plants for me to choose the one that matches my plant best. I can scroll right and left within each group to see more photos and descriptions of the group. And I can scroll down to see all the groups. My plant doesn't look like a fern or fern ally, nor does it look grasslike. So I keep scrolling down to more groups.
Looks like this is a dicot with netted veins instead of parallel, so I tap "Wildflowers - Dicots"
For dicots, I have more choices to narrow the group down. It's between Asters and Other Dicots. I scroll right to read a little more. My plant doesn't look like one of the asters, so I chose Other Dicots.
As shown above in an earlier FAQ item, I had set my geographic filter for Virginia Piedmont (2768 species possible). I can select a different location if I want by pressing the button next to "Location" and selecting the desired location.
As I enter more information into the Graphic Key, here just Non-aster dicot herb and Virginia Piedmont, the number of possible species is shown at the top: 1116 possible species are left.
I tap that I'm in moist place: 1059 possible species
In a shady place: 515 possible species. Note that the text for each header changes as I select something to specify what I've selected and a brief definition.
Under Habit, I chose Erect: 423
Stem hairy: 259
Leaves whorled: 20 (that was lucky!).
If I want more information about the character I'm considering, I can click the question mark to the right of the term.
A more lengthy definition will appear:
Leaves simple: 12
Leaves intermediate in shape (1-3x as long as wide): 10
Leaf margin entire: still 10
I skipped other questions, like about flowers, which I didn’t have.
Then I clicked “show”.
Next, I see the list of possible species, sorted with most common species at the top. It was easy to visually eliminate possibilities other than Whorled Loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia).
Or I could have asked for the “instant key” and gotten a decision tree to help decide.
No flowers, no problem!
And then, because I knew the plant by recognition (when you see a friend on the sidewalk, how do you know who it is? Do you think: “hm, human, male, mustache, brown hair a little long, straight nose, ears 7-8 cm from top to bottom, not as appressed as they could be, eye color brown, crinkly wrinkles from outer corners of eye— ah it’s JOE!), I also took a photo to show the little dark lineations in the leaf that are a “tell” for a group of Lysimachia species.
A: Yes! Check out this video with Research Botanist Scott Ward showing some FloraQuest highlights.