Written by Gwen Harden, Hugh Nicholson, Bill McDonald, Nan Nicholson, Terry Tame and John Williams
The Rainforest Plants of Australia app follows on from the USB version of the much loved and used red and green books. These books were the go-to resource for anyone wanting to identify a rainforest tree, shrub or vine back before computers or mobile phones helped organise our lives and plant ID!
The app covers rainforest plants – trees, shrubs, climbers, conifers, palms, mistletoes and tree ferns and climbing ferns – from Victoria to Rockhampton. It details 1140 species including 104 exotic species from subtropical rainforest, warm and cool temperate rainforest, dry rainforest and vine thickets and littoral rainforest. There is extensive information and photographs on the features used to identify plants including line drawings.
Like the USB, the app follows a Lucid key where you select different features that your plant has and, based on these features, it eliminates those that don’t match your specimen’s features. Features used can include leaf, flower, fruit, seed and bark characteristics and geographic distribution, rainforest type and plant family. The more features you put in the less options remain, until you are left with your one plant identified or a few plant profiles to refer to before you decide on your identification.
For those not used to the USB and using a Lucid key, this will be a change from using the red and green books’ dichotomous keys based on leaf characteristics. However, all the plant identification terms remain the same. The main strength of a Lucid key is that other features like flower and fruit colour can be entered to speed up identification.
The app has many images (over 8000) that help with plant identification and each plant has its own fact sheet (see screenshot lower right of a fern fact sheet). Not all the photos from the USB have been included in the app due to storage restrictions.
At 400MB to download, you may need to free up some space on your device. The app takes a bit of time to get used to, but the tutorial does help. I will continue to use the green and red books as well as the app to identify rainforest plants as they complement each other. The beauty of the app is the amount of information it can hold all on one portable device. The same amount of information in a book would be many volumes long and cost much more.
Lucid Mobile available from:
Google Play | Version 1.0.25
Apple iTunes | Version 1.0.3
April 2017 | 487MB | $49.99
Review by Stephanie Reif