Wildflower Identification – ONLINE!

Update 5/10/09:  I guess it’s working again.  Yay!

Update 7/14/08Before you get too excited, several readers have tried the link below and it hasn’t been working.  Sorry about that folks!  It was working when I posted this!

My friend Barbara told me about an on-line Wildflower Identification website for the Northeast.  (The site has links to keys for other parts of the country, too.)  I tried it out on a flower that I already knew, just to test how it worked.  All you do is check boxes and click the Identify button.  My screen looked like this (except there were boxes with checkmarks, rather than an ‘x’ in front of my choices:

Check the characteristics that you see (you can always hit “Back” and change these later).

Petal-like Parts
   3 petals
   4 petals
x 5 petals
   6 petals
   in a head (7 or more petals): cluster of stalkless (or nearly stalkless) flowers
   tubular petals
   irregular petals: lipped, lopsided, not symmetrical

Flower Arrangement
   single flower on stem
x several flowers on stem
   cluster or spike of flowers (a spike is a long cluster, with the flowers along the stem)
   in an umbel (flowers in an umbrella-like cluster, with stalks radiating from one point)

Flower Width
   1/8 of an inch or less flower width
x 1/8 to 3/8 inches flower width
   3/8 to 5/8 inches flower width
   5/8 to 1 inch flower width
   1 to 2 inches flower width
   2 inches or more flower width

Flower Color
   whitish flower color
   pink to red flower color
   yellow to orange flower color
   brownish or greenish flower color
x blue to purple flower color

When in Bloom
   blooms in April or earlier
   blooms in May
   blooms in June
   blooms in July
   blooms in August
   blooms in September or later

Plant Height
   plant height one foot or less
x plant height one foot to two feet
   plant height two feet or more

Leaf Petiole
x leaf petiole present (has a leafstalk)
   leaf petiole absent (has no leafstalk)

Leaf Arrangement
x alternate leaf arrangement on the stem
   opposite one another leaf arrangement on the stem
   arrangement of leaves on stem is whorled (three or more from a point)

Leaf Edges
x smooth leaf edges
   leaf edge has at least 4 teeth per inch
   irregular leaf edge
   deeply cut leaf edge

Leaf Veins Appear
   parallel leaf veins
x branched leaf veins

Simple Leaves (one per stem)
   simple leaves about as long as wide
x simple leaves about 1 1/2 to 5 times as long as wide
   simple leaves over 5 times as long as wide

Compound Leaves (many per stem)
   compound leaves are trifoliate – three leaflets radiating from a point
   compound leaves are pinnate – leaflets arranged along a midrib
   compound leaves are palmate – leaflets or lobes fan from one point

   stem creeps or twines
x stem is hairy or spiny
   stem is square

When I clicked the “Identify” button, I was given two possible flowers…  Before you click on “The rest of this entry…” (or scroll any further) to reveal the answers, do you have a guess?

Here’s what the program told me:

For these characteristics:

  • 5 petals
  • several flowers on stem
  • 1/8 to 3/8 inches flower width
  • blue to purple flower color
  • plant height one foot to two feet
  • leaf petiole present (has a leafstalk)
  • alternate leaf arrangement on the stem
  • smooth leaf edges
  • branched leaf veins
  • simple leaves about 1 1/2 to 5 times as long as wide
  • stem is hairy or spiny

The following wildflowers match:

  True Forget-Me-Not
  Viper’s Bugloss

The flowers listed in the results link to a full list of characteristics.  Each flower listed will also have the word “Photos” in parentheses after it… which links to a google image search – sometimes useful, sometimes, not so much…  My flower was…


It’s a pretty neat website, easy to use!  If you don’t know the answers to some of the categories, just leave them blank.  Your list of possible flowers might be longer because of the lack of detail.  Want to try?  Click below:


I’ve added this link to my right sidebar, in case you lose it and need to find it again…


15 thoughts on “Wildflower Identification – ONLINE!

  1. I used your description and came up with forget-me-nots ! It works pretty neat.

    There are also links to tree identification and bird identification on the same site . I am always trying to identify the unusual things I come across in my nature journeys, so these three programs are going to get a work out!

  2. This tool is really cool! Thank you very much for sharing it. Sometimes I make pictures of the unknown flowers and have no idea how to search for their names. Now this problem seems to be solved.

  3. Thanks for the link, Jennifer. I bookmarked the one for the West. It leads you to photos categorized by color. So that would be quite a few photos to go through, but it’s still helpful.

  4. Pingback: A side of mustard « the Marvelous in nature

  5. June 25, 2008

    I tried the website twice; this si what I got:

    Not Found
    The requested URL /domaincgi/flowers.cgi was not found on this server.

    Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.


  6. The website has this message posted:

    I’ve switched to a new ISP and now my Perl script does not work on the new system – foo. I’m working to figure out the problem.

    And if you try it anyway, you get the error MikeB posted. Looks like they haven’t figured it out yet…

  7. The standalone version of the Wildflower Finder worked fine for me. I had been trying to identify Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) for months, spending hours searching photos on the internet. I was all set to take a 35 mile drive to the Cornell Cooperative Extension for a plant ID, when I took 1 more shot at it, and found your site.

    Turns out, while I was planning to cultivate this colorful plant around my property, everyone else in the known universe is trying to kill it! Apparently, Purple Loosestrife is an invasive and competitive destroyer of wetlands, and is unavailing to native wildlife!

    Guess that’s the end of THAT project. Saved in a nick of time. Thanks!

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