Blog:What is the name of that plant

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For someone who loves gardening, and especially for those who love the out-of-the-ordinary plants, seeing a great plant for the first time and not knowing what it's called can be extremely frustrating. If this happens while you're walking past someone's garden, it's to be expected that you wont know the name, but in a botanical garden you expect to see a label somewhere, if you look hard enough. Sometimes, it's just not there, and that was the subject of a guest rant I wrote for the Garden Rant blog entitled, 1,001 Whatsitsname Plants. They shared the nifty logo on the left with me to spread the word!

While I'm on the topic of the frustration of figuring out the names of a plant, I should mention that the first thing a few people asked me as soon as I mentioned I'm involved with a plant encyclopedia project is whether it could be used to identify plants. I wish. How would you go about it? What would you search for? How would you describe it? Many of the details you'd need to know have scientific names that most people, myself included, wouldn't know.

Fortunately, I think we're about to see a huge leap forward in technology which will allow for decent plant identification. Companies like Google are coming out with photo recognition software. At the same time, people all over the world are equipped with camera phones, or at least digital cameras. The day is coming where these technologies are going to merge, and you'll be able to simply snap a photo of a new flower or plant, and almost immediately get the name from the internet. I don't see how it can ever work perfectly. An apricot, peach or cherry blossom might not look different enough. A leaf might be too similar to that of another plant. You may never get down to cultivar level plant names. But still, you'll have an amazing tool the likes of which we've never seen before. There's no question a good photo of a lantana, a hydrangea, or say a Puya alpestris will come up with the right result!

--Raffi 17:08, 21 September 2010 (UTC)

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