Ever wonder how many plants you could name in the Old Forest? Now you can increase your knowledge with our online field guide devoted exclusively to the flowering plants of the Old Forest–more than 350 altogether!
Using the iNaturalist citizen science platform, we’ve taken the results of Tom Heineke’s 2009 floristic survey of the Old Forest and put them into a visual guide. This incredible information was previously only available in a PDF document, but now it springs to life. Here are some of the features of the guide:
- It’s sortable. Each entry is tagged with whether the plant is a tree, vine, or wildflower; the month(s) its flowers are in bloom; the color of those flowers; and whether it’s native to our area. If you’re looking for a yellow flower that blooms in March, click the “(03) March” row under Bloom Month, then hover over “white” under “Flower Color” until a green plus sign appears. You’ve just narrowed your search to the nine plants that might have yellow blooms in March!
- It’s hyper-local. Many of the photos that illustrate the guide were taken right here in Overton Park.
- It’s a living document. When you visit a plant’s entry page, you’ll see an “iNat map” that shows you the locations where someone has observed this plant in Overton Park. That means YOU can contribute to this guide! When you snap a photo of a plant and upload it to iNaturalist as an observation, you’re contributing to the data we have about the park. This is especially helpful when you see a plant that we’ve marked “non-native invasive.” We need to know where you’ve found these plants so that we can eradicate them! When you use iNat on your phone, it will automatically tag the location of any observation you make.
Best of all, you don’t have to wait until you get home to use this guide–it works while you’re in the field. Visit the App Store on your phone and download the free iNaturalist app. Once it’s installed, tap the menu icon and choose “Guides.” If you’re here in Tennessee, you can tap “Nearby” and our guide should automatically pop up in a list. If it doesn’t auto-populate, type “Overton Park” in the “Search Guides” box. Once you’ve loaded the guide, you can browse the entries, or tap the menu bar to sort by tags.