Why use I Can See Nature?

This mobile/web app concentrates on identification, which we do in a unique way:

  1. We provide multiple identification paths, to help you identify your specimen regardless of conditions — short or tall, growing season or dormant, flowering or not.
  2. We provide backlinks, additional paths, and easily-confused charts, for when you get off-track.
  3. We provide id paths based on attributes you can observe in the field.  Without tools, whenever possible.
  4. We field-test our product, leading to continual improvements.  And invite our community to help.

After you complete the identification path, we:

Throughout the process:

For all these reasons, we hope you will find this tool easier to use than that 📚︎ stack of fieldguides in your 🎒︎ fieldpack.  Lighter, too, and always with you, thanks to being this page section on mobile-friendly responsive/mobile-first/mobile-friendly!

And we hope you appreciate this tool's educational component.  Not just because we value education, but because after you have identified something using this tool a few times, we hope you will find ICSN faster to use, and needed only for novel specimens!

How does I Can See Nature work?

To help you identify the specimen in front of you, ICSN starts you at its main selection page — the 🏠︎ home page.

Based on what you observe about your specimen, you will press one or more .

These buttons come in several types:

In addition:

To see the destination of a link, do a long-press or mouse-hover.

What we cover

ICSN started with 🌳︎🌲︎ trees and shrubs with leaves, later tightening the language as terrestrial woody plants with 🌳︎🍁︎ broadleaves .  Then, we added evergreens, later tightening the language as 🌲︎ conifers .  Then added identification of those that had 🍃︎ lost their broadleaves or needles (i.e., have bare branches).  We started with plants that grow wild in North America, east of the 🗻︎ Rocky Mountains.  Then added some plants from North America's Pacific Coast and 🏜 desert southwest.  But our ambition is 🌐︎ global, and we are backfilling as fast as we can.  After we get good coverage, we will continue with terrestrial ❧ herbaceous plants, ♒︎ aquatic plants, moss, 🍄︎ mushrooms and fungi, animals (🐟︎ 🐢︎🐇︎ vertebrate 🐾︎ tracks and 💩︎ scat, and 🐝︎ invertebrates), and 💎︎ rocks and minerals.  If you would like to suggest an area to work on next (or any fixes!), please use the button at the bottom of each page.

Identifying what you see usually involves an identification key .

Most 📚︎ fieldbooks use identification keys that are:

  1. single-access (set up only one way — if the key wants to know about hairs on the leaves, and it is winter or the leaves are 20 m (70 feet) up, you are out of luck),
  2. unidirectional (each node/entry/webpage references/links/points to only its child nodes, not its parent[s]),
  3. dichotomous (each decision node references/links/points to exactly two child nodes), and
  4. static (non-interactive).

This tool uses identification keys that are:

  1. multi-access (e.g., you can identify a maple by its leaves in the summer, by its leaf scars in the winter, and by its bark if it is tall),
  2. bidirectional (each node/entry/webpage references/links/points both directions — to its child and parent nodes),
  3. polytomous (we can fit more than two buttons on a screen), and
  4. interactive.

From our various sources, we strive to select criteria that are easy to use:

  1. We won't ask you to use a 🔬︎ microscope.
  2. We will minimize use of a 🔎︎ hand-lens (although I now carry one, to see hairs or bundle scars ).
  3. You probably don't need a 📏︎ ruler or tape measure if you know your ✋︎ palm width , 👟︎ shoe length and 🚶︎ stride .
  4. We will minimize asking you what is 20 m (70 feet) in the air (although binoculars might help if you can't determine which leaves on the ground belonged to your tree).
  5. We won't ask you what the plant did months ago, such as whether the plant started with one or two leaves (monocot vs 🌱︎ dicot), or whether the flower emerged before the leaves.

I Can See Nature! is proudly envisioned, built, maintained and fostered in West Michigan !

Thank you!  — Eric Piehl, Founder, CTO, computer geek/Master Naturalist/citizen scientist/agent of change/environmental entrepreneur.  LinkedIn.   Some of my other projects.