Archive for the ‘Field Techniques’ category

Another Great Resource to Identify Violets

May 2, 2012

Check out the violet key at the Delaware Wildflowers web site. Great photos too.


Seeing a Lot of Violets and Willows? Use our NY Keys.

May 2, 2012

This is the time of year when violets are flowering. You can use THIS KEY  to New York species to help you identify them.  If you are also seeing willows and ignoring them because they are too hard to identify try THIS KEY by David Werier to help you out.   Have fun in the field! – Steve Young

Viola cucullata in a swamp in Livingston County. Photo Steve Young.

Looking at Plants in the Palisades Region? New Trail Map Available.

April 30, 2012

Printed in vibrant color on waterproof and tear-resistant Tyvek, this revised, digitally-produced five-map set is a must-have for outdoor enthusiasts interested in exploring the trails and open space in the Palisades region of New York and New Jersey.   For more information and ordering CLICK HERE.

Video: Collecting Plants for Identification and Vouchering

October 17, 2011

Here is a good video from the University of Wyoming about how to collect plants for botanical specimens.



Video: Using Keys to Identify Plants

September 5, 2011

I recently came across a website called by Angelyn Whitmeyer from North Carolina that contains resources and tips for identifying plants.  One of the videos is below:

CLICK HERE to see the full list of videos and the website.

This is a good website for beginners and contains useful information on plant identification.  Check it out and let others know what you think in the comments section. – Steve Young

Assessing the Condition of Wetlands in New York

August 16, 2011

The NY Natural Heritage Program and environmental firm Tetra Tech are teaming up this summer to assess the condition of various wetlands across New York for the EPA.  The project began with wetlands in the Adirondacks, continues on to Western New York, and finishes on Long Island.  Below are some photos from the work in the Adirondacks. – Steve Young

Each site requires lots of equipment to sample the vegetation in five 100 meter square plots along with soil samples. Some sites are close to roads. Others require some bushwhacking with backpacks.

Chad Barbour and Elizabeth Spencer dig a soil pit near Louisville in St. Lawrence County. Dirty Jobs anyone?

Lots and lots of data and samples are taken at each site. It takes about 6-7 hours to complete the process.

Staff from DEC and TNC helped us access some of the more remote sites. Here Todd Dunham from TNC shows us a small waterfall near one of our sites.

So far we have sampled a variety of wetlands like this wet meadow near Louisville.

And a beautiful spruce-fir swamp southeast of the Carry Falls Reservoir.

As well as an alder shrub swamp along Moose Creek southwest of Follensby Pond.

We documented some beautiful examples of wetland flora like this Platanthera psycodes.

Virgin's-bower, Clematis virginiana, was a dominant in the alder swamp.

There is always a Carex species or two, or three, or four . . . This is Carex vesicaria in the shrub swamp.

Black elderberry, Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis, was also common in the shrub swamp.

Many tricolored bumble bees, Bombus ternarius, were feasting on the spotted joe-pye-weed.

In the spruce-fir swamp we saw the rough bark of red spruce, on the left, with the smoother bark (with resin blisters) of balsam fir on the right.

This northern white cedar had its bark damaged by a bear.

Future posts will document our work as it continues in other regions of the state. Elizabeth records data in the wet meadow.



First Test of Leafsnap Tree Identification App

May 15, 2011

In a recent post the new tree identification Apple app Leafsnap was featured. I collected 5 tree leaves today to see how well it worked.  Here are the results:

1. American elm – It had it listed as its 4th guess.

2. Witch hazel – It was not in the database. I guess it considers it a shrub.

3. Gray birch – Right on its first guess.

4. Cottonwood – Right on its first guess.

5. White ash – It was listed as its 10th guess.

There are quite a few exotic trees in the database which are very similar to our native leaves, especially the compound leaves.  It certainly was not perfect but we will test more leaves soon to see if it does better. – Steve Young

Leafsnap iPhone/iPod Touch App for Identifying Trees

May 8, 2011

Many years in development, the leaf identification app Leafsnap is finally available for the iPhone and iPod touch with camera and wifi connection. It will be interesting to see how it will be integrated into dendrology and other flora classes. See the YouTube video below to see how it works.  Are the graminoids next?

Find a Location on Bing, Google and USGS Topo Maps Using UTM, Lat-Long or MTM (Canada)

February 1, 2011

If you want to enter GPS coordinates in web-based maps it can be a hassle to convert the coordinate systems depending on how you record them.  There is a great website that does it for you and with one click will go to the web map you want.  It is called and can be found at For a UTM set of coordinates, for example, just fill in the yellow boxes with zone 18T and hit the display button.  It will take you directly to your location on the map, even in Bing Birds-eye view. This is a very simple and handy tool that I use all the time now to find locations that I record on my GPS. – Steve Young

A sample of page 1 of the website.

Collecting Milkweed Seed at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

January 23, 2011

Here is a video that features Dr. Gerry Moore demonstrating how they collect seed and press plants at the garden.