I’ve spent the first 7 years of my retirement working half time on PlantID.net, a website designed to help curious people learn about California plants found in the wild. I have a couple of strategies:
- Offer lots of obvious searches across all California plants, such as Plant Type (broadleaf, conifer, shrub, vine, flower, fern, grass), flower color and shape, leaf arrangement, Has Berries, Has Catkins, Is Succulent, Annual/Perennial, Monocot/Dicot, and more. I picked these searches because anyone can develop an opinion about them, and they’re useful for eliminating plants, leaving short lists of possibilities. Also, I let people add local plant lists (over 500 at present) to help pare things down.
- Provide illustrated ID tips for each plant. As you can imagine, this is a work in progress, but I make it possible for anyone to pick from a database of over 100,000 photos and add captions to describe what the photos show.
- Provide lots of information about each plant, including a slideshow, occasional photo essays, and links to other sites. I want to let my users learn about the plant they’ve just named.
I think the world needs to do a better job of making botany accessible to anyone who’s curious, and I’m having a blast working on it.