Washington Wildflowers: A New Standard in Wildflower Smartphone Apps

This is a birth announcement of sorts. My close friends know I’ve been working with a small team for the last several months to create a new smartphone field guide to Washington state wildflowers. In a few days, as soon as the app approval mavens at Apple give their OK, Washington Wildflowers will be available. It’s been a long journey, but we think it’s worth the wait.

Washington Wildflowers launch screen

Washington Wildflowers launch screen

University of Washington Herbarium at the Burke Museum, the authors of Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest, and High Country Apps have partnered to produce the new Washington Wildflowers plant identification app for iOS and Android devices. The app provides images, species descriptions, range maps, bloom period, and technical descriptions for more than 850 common wildflowers, shrubs, and vines that occur in Washington and adjacent areas of British Columbia, Idaho, and Oregon. The majority of species included are native, but introduced species common to the region are covered as well in order to expand the usefulness of this resource. Most of the 850 species are illustrated with three photographs, usually a blossom detail, the entire plant, and often a habitat view. I made almost all of the photographs, the exceptions being a few plants I have yet to find.

Once downloaded and installed, the app does not need an internet or cellphone connection to run so you can use it no matter how remote your wanderings take you.

The app will be available around April 4 by following one of these links (please come back later in the week to download):

Kindle Fire through Amazon

Android platform through Google Play

Apple iOS platform through iTunes

The number of species covered and wealth of information included sets a new standard for wildflower identification apps. Though primarily designed for amateur enthusiasts, Washington Wildflowers has a breadth of content and depth of information that will appeal to more experienced botanists too. Users can browse the species list by common or scientific name (and even by family!) to locate a plant and access the related information. However, most users will likely use the identification key that is the core of the app to identify a plant of interest.

Washington Wildflowers search screen

Washington Wildflowers search screen

The key’s user-friendly interface is broken down into nine simple categories: growth habit (e.g., wildflower, shrub, vine), flower color, month of year, geographic region, habitat, leaf arrangement, leaf type, duration (annual, biennial, perennial), and origin (native or introduced). Select choices in as many or as few categories as you wish. As you do so, the number of species found is displayed at the top of the page. Once done selecting, the tap of a button returns thumbnail images and names for potential matches. Users scroll among the species on the list and access additional photos, descriptions, and range maps by tapping the thumbnail image.

Washington Wildflowers plant list

Washington Wildflowers plant list

Washington Wildflowers includes supporting documents with extensive information on the ecoregions of Washington, descriptions of habitats found across the state, wildflower destinations with best time to visit, insights into how the climate influences the plant communities found here, as well as detailed instructions on how to use the app. Users will also find an extensive glossary of botanical terms, along with labeled diagrams of leaves, flowers, and inflorescences. Finally, detailed descriptions can be found for each family contained in Washington Wildflowers. Tapping on a family name brings up a list of images and names for all species in the app belonging to that family.

Calypso bulbosa photo screen

Calypso bulbosa photo screen

Washington and its adjacent areas are home to diverse landscapes containing a wealth of wildflowers, shrubs, and vines. Washington Wildflowers will appeal to individuals of all ages who travel to such areas and are interested in knowing the names and natural history of the plants that they encounter. Washington Wildflowers is also a great educational tool for learning more about plant communities, botanical terms, and how to identify plants in general. A portion of revenues from the app supports conservation and botanical exploration in the region.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed the Washington Wildflowers app, I’m interested in what you think of it. Comment here, or send feedback through the app itself.

© 2013, Mark Turner. All rights reserved. This article is the property of Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens. If you are reading this at another site, please report that to us

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About Mark Turner

Mark Turner is a freelance photographer specializing in botanical subjects, especially Northwest wildflowers and gardens.  He photographs extensively for books and magazines both in gardens and in a wide range of native plant environments. He is an avid member of the native plant societies of Washington and Oregon and has more than 25 years of experience exploring for native plants, which he describes at the Turner Photographics Blog. Mark is author of Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest.  He lives in Bellingham, Washington where he also runs a portrait studio photographing families, high school seniors, and pets.


  1. Debbie says:

    Mark, Congratulations! How gratifying it must be to have been part of the team that developed this app. I hope more group’s follow your lead and develop similiar apps for other states.
    Debbie recently posted..Book Preview ~ Powerhouse Plants

  2. Susan J. Tweit says:

    Mark, That’s so cool! Big congratulations on taking your work from the printed page to an app! I can’t wait to see it, and I’ll definitely get the word out to my family in Washington state. (My brother, Bill Tweit, is best known as a birder and one of the state’s top fisheries managers, but he’s an avid wildflower-watcher too, as is his wife, Lucy Winter, a forester for the state.) You must be both exhausted and over the moon about the impending release!
    Susan J. Tweit recently posted..New starts

  3. Judy Songer says:

    I so wish I had this when I visited Washington in 2011. It’s a plant lovers paradise! We need an app for Florida too.
    Judy Songer

  4. Valerie says:

    Will the wildflower app work on android devices as well as the apple
    Thank you

    • Mark Turner says:

      Valerie: Yes, the Washington Wildflowers app is available for Android smartphones and tables as well as for Apple iPhone and iPad. There’s a link to it in the Google Play store in the story (between the first two screen shots in case you missed it).


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