This post will share some of our favorite resources for identifying wildflowers in your area and includes both helpful apps and books that are sure to educate and inspire.
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I called upon my friend Emily who is a flower enthusiast and budding flower entrepreneur (follow her lovely Instagram here!) to help me write this post. These are the tools she and other flower lovers like her use to identify flowers both while out and about and at home after a hike.
How to Identify Wildflowers with Apps
That Garden App is the go-to app on Emily’s phone. It is simple to use. Take a photo plant or butterfly, and the app brings up a list of possibilities. You confirm your matches, and the app saves all your photos so you can look back to see what you identified last week or month. And, this app opens a search page for the plant where you can learn more. This app is free and is endlessly helpful for quickly identifying the plant in front of you.
Garden Answers is another helpful app. Similar to That Garden App, it creates a photo album with results of your plant searches and helps you identify quickly the plant or flower you are seeing.
There are lots of flowers or plant ID apps out there and they all do about the same thing. Get a free one as an app is a preliminary stage in plant ID and the real investigation happens at home, with a good book. A beverage to enjoy while reading is optional but encouraged.
TIP: If you have a general idea of the flower you are trying to identify (based on an app or your own previous knowledge) you can use the books mentioned to refine your definition. In one sense, the app can be used “in the field” and the book (heavier and not as portable perhaps) can be used to narrow down your results after your trek.
How to Identify Wildflowers with Books
One book that is very helpful is the “Field Book of Western Wildflowers” It is organized by family (like rose, peony, dogwood, etc) and it has detailed illustrations and a thorough description to help you decide the family and name of flower you are enjoying.
“Western Garden Book” by Sunset is not only for identifying wildflowers but is a very in depth resource covering cultivation, flower identification, planting zones, growing information, water & sun information, and more. It discusses wildflowers, trees, plants, shrubs, fertilizer, lawn information, planting instructions, weed advice, etc. This is the book for a Dear Reader who has a green thumb and wants to learn more about gardening as well as plant identification. It is weighty, has beautiful photographs, and is a wealth of information.
The National Geographic Pocket Guide to Wildflowers is easy to take along on your hike or picnic, has beautiful photos, and is very thorough as well. This would make a great gift for a friend and is the way you could identify a flower if you have no cell service, no storage with which to take a photo (me, 90% of the time), or a dead phone (me, 50% of the time). Sometimes technology fails us, but this little book won’t.
California Foraging is for the Wildflower reader who is interested in nibbling on the edibles afield. This resource is indispensable for identifying plants that are safe to eat. If you aren’t in California, get a book that is specific to your area.
Before you pick some wildflowers to arrange and enjoy at home, check to see if they are protected. Sometimes wildflowers are better left to grow undisturbed and in any case, snap a photo and share it on Instagram using the hashtag #thedomesticwildflower so we can see it!
If the flowers on your jaunt are more likely to be planted by man rather than the man upstairs, The Little Guides: Flowers is my favorite resource. It was given to me by my dear friend Abby years ago. She’s the one who said to me a little over a year ago, “let me build you a blog!” and I said yes and here we are. How funny it is that she gave me this way, way before I ever dreamed of having a blog called The Domestic Wildflower, back when she and I shared membership in a scholarship program, several Chico apartments, a trip to Europe, and years of friendship. She’s also a great book chooser 🙂 Grab yours by clicking the link below!
For bouquets of wild plants that you are sure are safe and legal to collect, find what you think is beautiful and arrange it however you would like. I wrote a post here about wiring wild plants to wreaths and arranging them in metal buckets that I think you’d enjoy. Check it out!
How to Plant Your Own Grasses
If you are interested in diving into planting grasses, check out this gorgeous infographic shared from https://agreenhand.com/how-to-grow-grass-fast/ !
Please share in the comments below which resources you love for identifying plants in your area!
If you loved this post, you should read how I made homemade lilac syrup here.