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FutureStarrIllinois Wild Plant Identification
Illinois is a land of diverse woodlands, prairies and wetlands. There are hundreds of species of plants here, ranging from aquatic plants to pines to grasses and wildflowers. There are a number of resources, both online and in print, to help you figure out the species of plants that you’ll encounter. Be sure to bring along a camera, pens and paper for notes or drawings, and a field guide to make identification faster, easier and more precise.
It’s far less injurious to plants (especially endangered or finicky plants) to take detailed photographs. You can also photograph the surrounding area. Details like slope of the ground, terrain type and nearby water sources can give you additional clues. Take notes on whether it was found in a prairie, on an incline leading to a waterway, or was in the waterway itself (such as a water weed in Lake Michigan or a tree on the bank of the Mississippi).Great resource for native plants! Their own description: "The PLANTS Database provides standardized information about the vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichens of the U.S. and its territories." Provides these important (to me) pieces of info: 1) Listing by state and county within a state where specific species have been identified. 2) Scientific name synonyms are listed. 3) Scientific names are matched to a widely-used common name. 4) Photographs of many species. 5) State by state list of all the species identified in that state. Official Citation: USDA, NRCS. 2009. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 22 June 2009). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
Over 9,000 Flickr member photos tagged with wfgna. The WFGNA group has good tagging requirements for their excellent photos, so you'll find, in addtion to the photo, the state in which the photo was taken, and at least a common name and the scientific name as identified by the contributor. After you get to the linked page you should add search criteria, including the state name, the color of the plant, or scientific name, to reduce the number of photos. Several states have several hundred photos(California has over 1,500!) so you'll probably want to add color to the search criteria.Steven K. Sullivan has done a tremendous job of putting together a database and search engine to help in identifying wild plants. Not only can you search by plant scientific and common names, you can narrow the results using location (currently lower 48 states and parts of Canada and Mexico), flower shape, color, size, habitat, and observation time. His database currently includes over 7,000 plants. Definitely worth checking out. (Source: uswildflowers.com)