Digital Herbarium, a tool to create a virtual herbarium
Digital Herbarium is an original and creative mobile application for a new generation of herbaria. Fun and educational, allows to create and customize the herbarium sheets while learning botany
Source: Android description (translated and modified) / Image: Lekalito CC BY-SA 4.0
Download: Android 3.0 (10.62MB) / iOS (link disabled)
Language: French / Spanish / English
Runs offline: yes
Last update: Android 04/12/2014 (v. 1.2) – iOS (link disabled)
Website of the developer: Klorane Botanical Foundation
This app, available for Android and iOS devices (at the time of writing this article, the iOS app download link gives error), enables children between 6-12 years (age recommended by Klorane Botanical Foundation) to create herbarium sheets from the photographs they obtain with the mobile device, being able to personalize and name them before saving them.
The operation of the application is very simple:
- Once installed, the application will ask you to take a photo on a white background of the leaf or branch you are interested in inventorying. You can also select an image you have on your mobile device.
- After validating the image, the next step is to crop it. To do this, the application has a tool called “magic wand” that allows you to easily select the background to remove it. At the lower right end you will see that there is a slider that, when the wand is selected, allows you to adjust the sensitivity of the selection (if you have ever used the “magic wand” tool in Photoshop, you will see that it is very similar), and when the eraser is active, allows to define the size of the brush for a more precise removal of the background.
- The next step is the Studio, a section where you can customize your image by applying filters, adding a background or different types of icons (to delete them, drag them to the bottom bar), as well as a frame or text in which you can point out the species, where you collected it, etc. The arrows shown at the top allow you to undo and redo the different actions.
- Once the edition is finished, the image is registered in the system, being able to be shared in different social networks.
Video appli herbier digital silence ça pousse Institut Klorane (5 min 28 sec. In French)
Images: screenshots 20/02/2017. ©Klorane Botanical Foundation
According to the definition provided by Wikipedia, an herbarium is «a collection of preserved plant specimens and associated data used for scientific study» that «may be whole plants or plant parts; these will usually be in dried form mounted on a sheet of paper but, depending upon the material, may also be stored in boxes or kept in alcohol or other preservative». Its creation requires time and effort, since the procedure includes numerous phases such as the collection of the different species, their drying, the mounting on herbarium sheets or the preservation.
Although the traditional creation of a herbarium can be an entertaining activity for school-age children, it is also advisable to take into account other simpler alternatives to carry out and in which less infrastructure and physical storage capacity is needed. In this way, applications such as Digital Herbarium can be a useful resource for children to enter the world of botany, as it combines aspects related to the social networks or customization of images with the education and capacity of identification of the different species, although for the development of this last skill it is necessary the consultation with experts or the use of other bibliographic or technological resources (the Klorane Botanical Foundation has another application for identification of plants called IK-Botanic). The different images created are stored in the mobile device itself, and can be deleted from the gallery. With a view to possible improvements, it would be interesting to include tools for editing the plants already stored, to correct, for example, the names of species.