Need to ID a plant in Nova Scotia? There's an app for that!

Bunchberry (Photo by NCC staff)

Bunchberry (Photo by NCC staff)

December 7, 2016 | by Marian Munro

Those red teaberries look so yummy, but can I eat them? What can I collect to make tea? What goes well in a salad? These questions and more may be answered for you in a recently released app created by developer Gordon Isnor and me, curator of botany at the Nova Scotia Museum.

Gordon is the dad of a young son, and they like to hike together. They also like to forage for food from the wild. So what did Gordon do? As a web developer, he was somewhat familiar with the technology for building an app, and then he asked me for content.

Red huckleberry (Photo by NCC)

Red huckleberry (Photo by NCC)

I have foraged for food for more than 30 years, developing some favourite recipes and trying new ones — ones I like to share. Together, we released the Useful Nova Scotia Plants app for iOS, Android and web after only 10 months of consultation, and you can download it for free from our website.

More than 80 species of shrubs, trees, ferns, grasses and herbs are included on the app. Most have edible berries, leaves or roots, but some have other uses: caning chairs, weaving baskets, brewing beer or making wine. The app is very easy to use, and features an alphabetical list of plants and plenty of pictures to help users when they're out in the wild.

Although the app's title mentions only Nova Scotia, many of the plant species are found throughout Atlantic Canada and the eastern U.S. Not all useful plants are included, but we hope to crowdsource more recipes. Our hope is that users will increase their knowledge of gathering plants or wildcrafting and its responsibilities. Comments and suggestions are always welcome, either through the website, on social media with the hastag #novascotiaplants or directly through our Facebook page.

Gordon and I have never met in person, but watch for our next collaboration, to be released in spring 2017…the Poison Plant Patch app!

Marian Munro (Photo from the Nova Scotia Museum)

About the Author

Marian Munro is the Curator of Botany for the Nova Scotia Museum.

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