By Carl Roland and Sarah Stehn (last updated December, 2016)
In 2016, Denali’s botany staff revealed two new e-resources for exploring subarctic flora. Whether you are in the park, exploring nearby areas or are curious about Denali’s plant life, these tools can uncover a whole new world. Use them to learn about new species or increase knowledge of species previously known species (Figure 1).
The free DenaliFlora plant identification app (iOS and Android) is available for download and allows exploration of over 300 species. Although Denali’s cell service and Wi-Fi are limited, it is available for most carriers at the Murie Science and Learning Center and the Denali Visitor Center. Once downloaded, the DenaliFlora is fully functional out of cell range. This means you can use the app to identify plants anywhere in Denali's wild landscapes.
The app functions as an Interactive Key. First, find a plant you would like to identify, then open the app and select from characters listed. Once presented with a narrowed list of possible species, you can view color photographs and browse natural history information for each of their potential matches. These options can help you quickly find a species match (Figure 2). Descriptions and examples defining botanical terms are provided. Swipe right to see the list of species matching your selected characters, or swipe left to select more characters to narrow down the list.
Already know the plant but want to learn more about it? You can search the Species List by common or scientific name to narrow down the species covered by the electronic field guide. This feature is helpful if you are familiar with a certain type of plant and want to know what species may be found in Denali.
New to plant identification? The DenaliFlora app was designed with you in mind! Swipe through the Key Tutorial to learn how to use the interactive key. In the About the Key section, you can read up on the intended purpose of the key, how the species included were selected, and about the Ecological Atlas of Denali's Flora - the web resource for which this app is the field companion.
From each species description page in the DenaliFlora app, visitors with internet access can access the more detailed Ecological Atlas of Denali’s Flora. This resource provides further information about the distribution and community ecology of that species. As a stand-alone portal to the species descriptions, the online atlas displays distribution maps and charts describing the relationship between the species and select environmental gradients (Figure 3) - knowledge gained from over 10 years of NPS-funded vegetation monitoring and inventory work.
These two interactive products boost visitor access to information about the park’s flora. It also enriches understanding and appreciation of these subarctic resources. The app and online atlas pair nicely with many of the park’s current outreach efforts including interpretive walks and school programs, engaging both in-person and virtual visitors alike.