What is the best way to remember plant images?

Discussion in 'Plants: Identification' started by bigfoot, Jun 10, 2013.

  1. bigfoot

    bigfoot Active Member

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    I have a 1000+ edible plants book and I want to be able learn most of them by the end of this year. What are the best ways to learn the plant features fast? I know and have heard most of the plant and herb common names, I just need to know the pictures and what they look like, so when I go into the woods I will be able to identify them


    This book has really detailed colored pictures, I wouldn't be memorizing the pictures if they weren't detailed
     
  2. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I think you have to take your own photos and then try to identify them. Then you'll start to get the idea of what you need to pay attention to. The plants you see won't look exactly like the photos in your book, no matter how good the photos are, and no book can have enough photos to cover the variations.

    Then you need to name your photos, and organize them so you can find them again.

    My friend Nadia, who shows up on these pages, made me start paying attention to the family names. She has at least one folder for each family (breaks them into smaller bits when they get too large) and adds the photos to the proper family (in a photo organizing program like Picasa or surely iPhoto, you can add photos to albums without creating extra copies of the photos). Then she studies her photos in the family albums and looks for similarities. When she comes across something new, she often has an idea of a few families to start looking in.

    We also try to hang out in places where the plants are labelled and we always photograph the label. Even food plants are grown in some botanical or other display gardens where they're labelled.

    I don't know where "fast" comes into this. The more you do and the more different approaches you take, the more you learn. I have no idea how to remember what I learned a few months ago unless I keep reviewing it.
     
  3. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Best way to learn fast is to start when you're under 10 years old, the brain soaks up info much more readily then ;-)
     
  4. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Also not much of an answer, but I think the only shortcut is to be intense about it, and to see a lot of plants and figure them out. Plants of the same species can look quite dissimilar, plus there are the various stages of growth to learn (if you are looking for edibles) -- it is easiest to learn by flowers first, next by fruits. Once you get past those, it really becomes much more an exercise of observation and recall (and honestly, without flowers and fruits, is sometimes impossible to go beyond genus unless you are highly familiar with the group).
     
  5. stone

    stone Active Member

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    if only it was that easy.
    I agree with the take pictures and then compare...

    Or... Just start taking the book with you on nature hikes, as I've often done.

    Once you start identifying plants, you won't need to memorize anything. Once you've identified a patch of something, it's fairly easy to keep an eye on the plants each time visiting.

    Memorizing will never replace learning...
     
  6. anthrome

    anthrome Active Member

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    In addition to the notes above I find that touching the plant's leaves, crushing and smelling them, and smelling the flowers helps me learn more about the plant in greater depth. Draw parts of the plant, and/or collect seeds/cuttings and attempt to propagate it. Visit plants throughout the year so as to observe them in various stages of development (flowering, fruiting). There are many dimensions to a plant aside from what may be be depicted in a photograph.
     
  7. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Concur generally with anthrome's response, but I'll suggest it is important to be able to recognize some families of plants before handling leaves / crushing them: off-hand, I won't touch some Apiaceae, Anacardiaceae, Boraginaceae, Ranunculaceae and Malvaceae because of oils, phytodermatotoxins, toxins absorbed through the skin or irritating hairs.
     
  8. anthrome

    anthrome Active Member

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    Yes, definitely a good point. Although sometimes a mild rash can really help you remember a particular plant. :)
     

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