P1090044 (2)

I used to be able to recognise and name most of the wayside flowers. As part of my A Level Botany course we had to present a collection of pressed and dried flowers to the external examiner for an intensive viva. I’m talking of 60 years ago, I suspect the modern day student will not of heard of external examiners and vivas. Being the sad git that I am, I still have my folder of dried flowers, about 200 species all classified and labelled precisely. I may fish them out and show you my diligence.

Time passes by and one’s interests widen, but I have always tried to put a name to plants as I pass by, but I admit to becoming a bit rusty on those once familiar names. At my age one starts to worry about dementia but all my friends struggle too. Annoyingly that elusive name will often surface at a later time. Anyhow, to brush up on my plant recognition skills I decided to upload an app onto my phone that would help me on those I had forgotten. I know I’m behind the times with this technology.

There were several to choose from, and eventually I chose one. I pointed it at an Ox Eye Daisy and it only told me that it was from the Asteraceae (daisy) family. That didn’t seem to be good enough, so I tried a few more. None were particularly accurate or quick to respond, maybe it’s my ageing Android phone. I searched ‘best plant apps’ and eventually settled on iNaturalist. Time to put it to the test.

A local walk I often do involves a pleasant almost traffic free lane. They call it Mile Lane despite the fact that it only measures half a mile. My mission today was to try and photograph and identify every flower seen on this short rural stretch of Lancashire. Last time I was out I was solely on the trail of the Bee Orchid – today I would be content with a Thistle or Dandelion.

That half mile took me far longer than usual as I searched the verges and hedges for as many plants as possible. Rather disappointedly I only counted 25 different species. (Grasses weren’t included, that would have been a step too far.) I recognised the majority of them but was stumped by one which my app told me was a Hedge Woundwort, Stachys sylvatica. I wasn’t aware of its pungent smell, next time I come across it I’ll check that out. Its common name suggests it was used for dressing wounds, no doubt having some antiseptic properties.

I was not impressed with the iNaturalist. It took a long time to register the plant and often gave a rather vague identification. I admit my phone is not the best for photography which may have a bearing on the results. If any of you have a suggestion for a favourite plant identification app I would be very grateful for your advice, I’ll try it out on a different lane.


 Hedge Woundwort.

12 thoughts on “A COUNTRY LANE.

  1. Michael Graeme

    As you know, I’ve started taking an interest in wild flowers recently. I’m having good results with Google Lens, but I lack your training and instinct to know when the app is pulling my leg. It does say your picture is Hedge Woundwort, though. You have a good eye. I’m struggling now we’re past the riot of spring colour. 25 species is good going.

  2. conradwalks.blogspot.com

    I have tried Plant Snap but was not impressed. Unlike bird recognition plants are much more difficult, except.that they do stay still. I enjoyed your recollection of the treasured collection and your reminiscence of your exam. I hope you got an A Star or whatever its equivalent was at the time.

    1. bowlandclimber Post author

      What would an A Star be worth now?
      I tried using iNaturalist because it also potentially identified insects etc. I will have a look at Plant Snap though I seem to remember that I was faster at identification than your phone.
      As I slowly enter into maturity I realise there is no such thing as an easy fix.

  3. Clare

    I have hedge woundwort growing a bit too freely in my garden …..and it smells horrible when I pull it up! I’ve never tried out it’s healing properties though!

  4. Martin Banfield

    Sue has been using an app called Seek, that seems to identify things fairly accurately.

  5. shazza

    I use I naturalist. As well as the app identifying the plant or type of plant, users can Id your photos too. If they are seasoned botanists, they are usually right! Though sometimes I do get two answers from two different people!

    1. bowlandclimber Post author

      iNaturalist is the latest I’ve tried. On a walk today as a test I pointed it at the all too common Himalayan Balsam, after an interminable time it said it couldn’t recognise the plant. What use is that ? I do wonder if it is something to do with my fairly basic Samsung phone. I will try that facility you mentioned before I go to one of the other apps suggested by readers.


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