What is the main difference between iFlora and conventional field guides?

The main aim of the development of the iFlora-Apps was to provide a reliable and easy to use plant identification of wild growing European plants. For this purpose, we consequently adapted the technical possibilities of smartphones and developed an app that allows to identify plants without botanical expert knowledge. In the iFlora-App, all identification characters are accessible via intuitive icons and comprehensible written texts. The characters can be selected by tipping on the icons on screen.

After getting used to the iFlora-app, plant identification is quick, simple and interactive: The app makes specific recommendations to ensure that the identification is conducted in as few steps as possible and yet reliable (more on interactive plant identification). With the innovative identification concept, information on few characters will often suffice to identify a plant: For instance, it may require as few as three simple characters to identify Yew (Taxus baccata) - with a conventional identification key you may have to answer up to 13 (often complicated and comprehensive questions) (more on this example).

iFlora also provides comprehensive further information on the plant species: For most of the species, you have direct access on scientific drawings, which help with the identification. Furthermore, thoroughly compiled texts with identifications characters of the species are included in the app.

In custom made distribution maps, the occurences of the species in Europe are shown. By means of these maps you can quickly approve, whether the identification is plausible, that is whether the species generally occurs in the region.

You can also customize the app with several extensions to your specific needs (more on the available modules)

Interested? - Just test the iFlora-App! You may install a free trial version, in which you can put the app to the acid test on the example of approximately 100 plant species.

For whom iFlora was developed?

The app may either be used by interested non-experts as well as by experienced botanists. The identification is done mainly by tipping on intuitively icons that are accompanied by comprehensible texts. The iFlora-App can be used without botanical expert knowledge. The used technical terms are explained in a comprehensive glossary, that is linked to the text. The app gives specific recommendations which identification characters should be used, in order to make the identification process as quick and reliable as possible (more on interactive identification). More than 200 identification characters, photos and scientific drawings of the species as well as thoroughly compiled texts with identification characters help with the identification. Many species can be identified even if they are not flowering, as many of the identification characters refer to leaves or the stem.

Does iFlora require a connection to the internet?

No! After having installed iFlora and downloaded the pictures from the server, all required data are on the smartphone and iFlora can be used offline.

Why does iFlora ask for access on images and files during the installation?

iFlora requires permission on file- and picture-acces in order to save the data and pictures shipped with the app as well as to save the protocols. The app does not send any of these data to us or 3-parties.

Which previous knowledge is required to work with iFlora?

No botanical expert knowledge is required to identify plants with iFlora. However, it may require some time to get used to the app. The identification is done by means of intuitive and easy to use icons, which are explained by comprehensible short texts. The texts are directly linked with an extensive glossary, where the technical terms can be easily be looked up.

I use iFlora for the first time – How to start?

For this purpose we have developed a short manual.

Can iFlora be used to identify ornamental or useful plants?

iFlora was mainly developed to identify wild growing European plants. However, the covered species include many non-native plants, if they are growing wild in the region. Hence, many ornamental and useful plants are included in iFlora, but you will not find not all plants growing in your garden in the app.

Where can I find further information on the species?

In the species' fact sheets, you'll find in the view 'characters' related links to internet sites with additional information on the species.

Which limitations has the free trail version?

In the free trial version, all functions of the app are available. They can be tested on approx. 100 plant species. If you are satisfied with it the trial version and wish to use the full version of iFlora no further installation is required. You can activate the (fee-based) modules you are interested in within the app.

Which modules are available?

In the app, several species groups can be activated with 'basic-modules' that contain ecological species groups (e. g. trees, alpine species) or species from specified regions (e. g. Germany, Scandinavia). These 'basic modules' include all functions required for plant identification. Several extension-modules complement the basic-modules.

Currently, the following extension-modules are available (please note that some extension-modules may not be available in every iFlora-version).

EXPERTS:This modules activates approx. 150 further identification characters.

You miss an extension or specific function? - Recommendations are gladly welcome at info@i-flora.com.

For which devices is the iFlora-App available?

The English-version is currently available for Android-Smartphones. Please contact us at info@i-flora.com, if you are interested in an IOS-version.

How can I give feedback?

You like the App? - We welcome your review in itunes or at the Google Play-Store. For specific questions, suggestions concerning improvement and criticism you may contact us via email at info@i-flora.com or use Twitter or Facebook.

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How to identify plant species with iFlora?

A short manual is explaing the plant identification with the iFlora-App.

Is it possible to identify all plants down to the species level?

In iFlora, the taxa are typically described on species level. Only in problematic groups like Hieracium, Rubus or Sorbus, we focused on higher taxonomic levels like subgenera, sections, or aggregates. The differential characters described in the fact sheets normally allow identification of the taxa down to the species level. Occasionally, also information on subspecies is given. However, using ONLY the interactive identification mode, it is yet not possible to identify ALL taxa down to the species level. Problematic groups are e. g. grasses, ferns or species rich genera like Alchemilla or Viola. The interactive mode will normally allow narrowing down to the genus level, especially if the expert module is activated.

Which identification characters are available in iFlora?

The plant species are characterized in iFlora by more than 200 identification characters, which cover all relevant parts of the plants: flower, fruit, leaf, bark and stem. The expert-module gives access to more than 150 further identification characters.

It is not necessary to be familiar with all of these characters. In fact, in most cases only few characters are required to identify a specific plant. The large number of included characters significantly facilitates the identification process: they allow the app to make specific recommendations, which character is best in order to identify the species as quick and reliable as possible (cf. here for best practices).

In iFlora information on only three characters may suffice to identify Yew (Taxus baccata) - with a conventional identification key you'll have to answer up to 13 partly complicated and comprehensive questions (cf. more on this example).

Is it possible to identify plants in the vegetative state, i. e. when they are not flowering?

Yes, iFlora allows identification based on vegetative characters. This is possible because the plant species are characterized by more than 200 characters in the app, of which many refer to leaves, stem or growth-form. Based on the vegetative characters it is often possible to confine the results to a small group of species. However, an identification down to the species level solely based on vegetative characters will often not be possible.

How does the identification process work?

In the iFlora-App plants can be identified in 3 different modes:

  1. interactive-mode
  2. icon-mode
  3. text-mode

The three modes characterize different ways to select the identification characters. They resemble on the same set of characters and, eventually, end up with the same results.

We recommend using the INTERACTIVE-MODE in which the app makes specific recommendations on the best characters.

At the start of the interactive identification iFlora proposes several characters (e. g. PHYLLOTAXY, FLOWER COLOUR), from which you can select one. After typing on one of the icons that corresponds to the character of your plant (e. g. FLOWER COLOUR RED), the iFlora-App calculates which characters are best in separating the remaining species and proposes these characters. The app makes a respective proposal which you can follow - but you may also select another identification character. Subsequently, this loop is repeated as long as only 1 species remains (which corresponds to all selected character), or if the remaining species can't be differentiated any more (cf. the manual for a specific example).

When to use the ICON or TEXT-mode?

The ICON- and TEXT-mode are useful mainly for experienced users. In the views you'll find lists of all available identifications characters. The characters are thereby displayed by icons or text, respectively. The characters refer to the

  • whole plant
  • stem
  • leaves
  • inflorescence and whole flower
  • perianth-leaves
  • stamina and carpels
  • fruits and seeds
  • locality

In these views you can scroll down and select appropriate identification character by tipping on the specific icon or text. The sequence in which you enter the characters is not significant.

The ICON- or TEXT-mode are especially useful, if the plant shows special adaptations (e. g. prickles or latex), that apply to only few species. If you are not very familiar with plant characters, it may take a while to find the best characters. However, for experienced botanists, these modes offer a very efficient approach for identification.

What do the icons and character-name precisely stand for?

Each icon and each character are accompanied by a text which explains its significance and, if necessary, gives further information. These explanations become visible if you tip for some seconds on the icon or character name.

What is the meaning of the numbers on the Icons (and the number behind the character names)?

The numbers show how many species are remaining when selecting the character. The indicated numbers always correspond to the actual state of the identification process. If you see, for example, '8' on an icon, 8 taxa will remain in the result list after tipping on the icon.

This information may help deciding, which character to choose next: the fewer species remain in result list, the less steps are required to finish the identification. Hence, the quickest way is to select the characters, that refer to rare adaptations of the plant and that distinguish it from many other species. In the INTERACTIVE mode, iFlora makes specific suggestions on these characters.

How to determine, which characters were already selected?

You'll find a screen section at the lower margin of the view in which the icons representing the already selected characters are listed.

What happens, if 2 characters within a character-group are selected?

If 2 (or more) characters within a character-group are selected (e. g. FLOWER COLOUR YELLOWISH and WHITISH), only the species remain in the result list, which correspond to both (all) selected characters.

This feature can e. g. be used to identify species with multicolour flowers (e. g. the flowers contain yellow and white shades like in some Water-crowfoot species)

What about the greyish characters? I can't select them.

The greyish characters are not activated and can't be selected. This may have two different reasons:

  1. The character does not apply to any of the species in the actual result list. Hence, after selection of this character no species would remain. In this case, the other characters of the respective character group are activated and can be selected.
    If you are sure, that a greyish character definitely applies to your plant, you should review the previously selected characters and correct them where appropriate. However, a character may also be greyish, if you try to identify a species that is not included in the app. E. g. it is not possible to identify grassy species with iFlora TREES or species not occurring in Germany with iFlora FLORA OF GERMANY.
  2. If the selected character is included only in the EXPERT module and the EXPERT module is not activated, all characters of the character-group are greyish. In this case, also a short message will pop up.

'All' identifications characters are used, but several species remain - What can i do?

If you try to identify a species that belongs to a group of many similar species (typically from 1 genus) the INTERACTIVE mode may find no further differential characters. In this case, the following options may be useful:

  • Select further differential characters in the ICON- or TEXT-mode. The indicated species number may help to find appropriate characters.
  • Have a look at the result list and check, whether you can exclude species based on habitat, locality or habitus.
  • Texts with further differential characters can be found in the fact sheets.
  • Activate the expert module (if not already done), which makes approx. 150 further identification characters available.

How can 'no species' remain at the end of the identification process?

This can happen, if you initially select identification characters and subsequently choose a species group from the TAXONOMY view. You should review the previously selected characters and, where appropriate, correct them in the screen section at the lower margin of the view.

I am uncertain about the identification result. How can I exclude similar species?

In the iFlora-App is it quite simple to find similar species: Just have a look at the neighbouring species in the result list - that are exactly the species with similar characters! To ensure that this approach gives reliable results, you should 1) insert only reliable characters (for which you are sure that they apply to your plant) and 2) insert several characters.

Furthermore, the fact sheets offer information on differential characters, habitat and the distribution of the species that may also be useful to differentiate between similar species.

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Which species are included in the result list?

In the result list generally all species are included. At the top of the result list, you'll find species which correspond with many of the selected identification characters, while species with few or none matches are at the bottom of the list. Species are only excluded from the result list, if they were selected in the TAXONOMY view.

What is the meaning of the %-indicators in the result lists?

The %-indicators show, with how many of the selected identification characters apply to the respective species. If you have, for instance, selected DECIDUOUS TREE and SIMPLE PINNATE LEAVES, you'll receive 100 % match for Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), and 50 % match for Beech (Fagus sylvatica) and 0 % for the European Silver-Fir (Abies alba).

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Which taxonomic system is used in iFlora?

The assignment of genera to families is largely following Euro+Med (2006f). The arrangement of families and higher taxa is in accordance with the APG IV System (Angiosperm Phylogeny Group 2016) for angiosperms, Christenhusz et al. (2011) for gymnosperms, and Pteridophyte Phylogeny Group (2016) for ferns.

Does iFlora consider vernacular and scientific plant names?

Yes, in iFlora scientific names as well as English vernacular names are considered. Overall, the app recognises more than 15.000 names. The nomenclature of the scientific plant names is in accordance with the EUR+Med Plantbase (Euro+Med 2006f). From the multitude of English vernacular names a frequently used name was selected. If appropriate, the vernacular names were taken from BSBI (2007f), further important sources are EPPO (2018f) and Euro+Med (2006f).

How to use the taxonomy view?

In this view, species groups can be selected based on their taxonomy. Thereby, species, genera and families, as well as larger taxonomic groups (subdivisions) can be selected. If a taxonomic group is selected, the non-selected species are completely excluded from the identification process and do not occur in the result list anymore.

What happens exactly, if I select a taxonomic group, e. g. a genus?

If you select a taxonomic group, the non-selected species are completely excluded from the identification process and do not occur in the result list anymore. Hence, you should only select a taxonomic group if you are really sure that your plant belongs to the selected group.

Once you select a taxonomic group, the app automatically opens the result list. You may inspect the result list, but can also select further identification characters in the IDENTIFICATION view.

Is it possible to select several taxonomic groups at once?

No, you can only select one of the groups at once. Instead, it may be useful, to select a taxonomic group from the next higher hierarchical level: e. g. you can select the Pink family (Caryophyllaceae), if you assume your plant is belonging to the genera Stitchwort (Minuartia) or Pearlwort (Sagina).

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How many pictures are included in the app?

In iFlora up to 3000 illustrations based on historical drawings are available. The exact number of pictures depends on the activated modules.

The drawings of plants are based on elaborated illustrated scientific floras of the 18. and 19. Century. All illustrations were reviewed, customized to the actual nomenclature, edited, cleaned, and optimised. Furthermore, important identification characters were added to the drawings. A complete list of the used sources can be found in Image References. Important historical floras include

  • Host, N.T., (1801-1809) Icones et descriptiones graminum austriacorum. A. Schmidt, Wien.
  • Kops, J. (1800f) Flora Batava. 28 Bände. Sepp en Zoon, Amsterdam.
  • Oeder, G.C. (1761-1883) Flora Danica.17 Volumes.
  • Sowerby, J.E. (1790-1813) English Botany, or Coloured Figures of British Plants. 36 Volumes.
  • Sturm, J. (1796f) Flora von Deutschland in Abbildungen nach der Natur. Sturm, Nürnberg.
  • Thomé, O.W. (1885) Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz. Zezschwitz, Gera.
  • Waldstein-Wartenberg, F. de Paula, von & Kitaibel, P. (1800-1812) Descriptiones et icones plantarum rariorum Hungariae. 3 Bände, M. A. Schmidt, Wien.

When are the images transferred from the server to the app?

The images are normally automatically downloaded after the installation of the app or the activation of new modules. The download can be stopped manually and resumed later. Once the images are downloaded, they are available in the app, even if no internet connection is available in the field.

We strongly recommend downloading the images with a free Wi-Fi-connection or mobile flat rate, as the download size may be considerable. To ensure that all images have been downloaded correctly, we recommend opening 'IMAGE DOWNLOAD' in the sidebar of the app subsequently, and download missing pictures once again, if necessary.

How much disk space do the pictures require?

We endeavour to find a good compromise between quality and size of the images. The medium size of the drawings is 200 kb, the distribution maps require 50 kb. If you download all pictures and maps, approx. 600 MB disk space are be required.

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What is the source of the distribution data?

The distribution and status of the taxa in Europe is shown in this book in custom-made maps. The distinguished regions are European countries or administrative districts. The information on species occurrences and status was mainly extracted from the EUR+Med Plantbase (Euro+Med 2006f). In the maps, also information on the floristic status of the species is included, i. e. information which species are native in the regions, and which are introduced by humans or only cultivated.

Was is the meaning of the colours in the distribution maps?

The colours represent the floristic status of the species in the respective region. Green indicates native occurrences, light green naturalized occurrences. Adventive occurrences are represented by light yellow shades and plants that are cultivated (but rarely occur in the wild) are dark yellow. Grey colours are used, if the floristic status of species is unknown or uncertain.

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What is the EXPERT-mode?

With the EXPERT-module, approx. 150 further identification characters are activated. It is is mainly designed for users with some botanical experience, because most of the included character require basic botanical knowledge on plant morphology, especially flowers.

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How many terms does the glossary include?

In the glossary currently approx. 480 term are explained. The glossary is directly linked with the technical terms in the character and species descriptions.

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