Do you love spending time outdoors and looking at the plants around you? Your observations could help add to scientific knowledge of Indiana’s native flora!
Indiana has more than 2,700 species of native plants throughout the state. The sheer numeric scale makes documenting their locations daunting. Therefore, Indiana University is requesting YOUR help to document plants in the state via a photographic scavenger hunt! Everyone—of all ages—interested in finding and photographing plants is invited to join this citizen science activity.
Participating is easy! On the Herbarium website, there are hunting lists for each region of the state. The lists show target species being solicited for the current time of year. (Common names are listed in the far right column.) But no worries if you find something else—you can submit plants that aren’t on the list too. Tip: Use an app like Seek or iNaturalist if you are unsure of a plant’s ID.
When you find a plant, snap a few photos! Try to take a few clear photos from different angles, focusing on different parts of the plant. Afterwards, submit an online or paper observation form with your photos. (Take a look at the form beforehand so you know the information that’s helpful to record.)
Submissions will reside in the digital herbarium, and you will be credited as the observer for each of your specimens. Not only will they be a part of this large digital database, but the observations will serve as occurrence records, documenting how each plant population is doing across the state. As the climate continues to change, these records will be of increasing importance in monitoring the health of each species.
This is a great way every person, regardless of scientific background, can actively participate in important environmental science. In the process, you might just learn more about the plants that make Indiana special!