UGA Extension publishes first app for iPhones, iPads and Android devices

‘Native Plants of North Georgia’ aims to help hikers, teachers and homeowners identify the plants around them

February 26, 2014

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J. Merritt Melancon

J. Merritt Melancon

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Athens, Ga. - Spring is around the corner, and University of Georgia Extension has a new app to help families and outdoor enthusiasts make the most of those first springtime hikes.

"Native Plants of North Georgia," now available for iPad, iPhone and Android devices, is a consumer-oriented field guide of the flowers, trees, ferns and shrubs that populate North Georgia's yards and forests.

Stationed in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest, Mickey Cummings, UGA Extension coordinator for Union County and the app's content author, has spent his career identifying plants for day-trippers, hikers and homeowners in North Georgia.

"I started wanting to create a collection of photographs that backpackers could use to identify plants on the trail," Cummings said. "All the reference material I was working with was too large to pack, and we wanted something that would be easy for people to use."

He first developed a hard copy of his guide, a pocket-sized laminated flipbook, in May 2008 to help the public identify local plants on the fly. Since then, UGA Extension has sold more than 1,000 copies of that original book, and the free online edition has been viewed more than 6,000 times.

Representatives from Southern Regional Extension Forestry, UGA Extension and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Office of Information Technology decided to use the popular guide as a pilot project in their development of mobile applications for UGA Extension.

The app, developed by application programmer Benaiah Morgan Pitts, allows the public to browse photos of plants organized by their blooming periods and includes leaf and bloom descriptions as well as their scientific and common names.

Other UGA Extension faculty members have collaborated on apps in recent years, mostly focusing on horticulture, pest management and turfgrass management. However, "Native Plants of North Georgia" is the first app to be produced by the UGA Extension publications and Extension information technology team.

All versions of this app are free and ready for download through the Apple App Store and Google Play. A PDF version of the guide is available for free download and the original pocket-sized flipbooks are available for purchase ($12) at www.caes.uga.edu/publications.

UGA Extension offers hundreds of free-to-download, research-based publications providing information on everything from home vegetable gardening to pest control to native plant identification. For more information about the library of information available, see extension.uga.edu or www.caes.uga.edu/publications

Filed under: Environment, University News

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