Most people with a real interest in natural history and ecology have a guidebook sitting around somewhere at home. The problem is, that book is often still sitting at home when you’re in hiking through the forest, wondering what on earth that giant tree with the serrated leaves is called. Now–provided you remembered to bring your iPhone–there’s an app for that: the MyNature Tree Guide.
Treehugger reports that you can search by tree characteristics (leaves v. needles, for example, or leaf shape) or by answering a series of 15 questions, based on observation. Once you’ve found a likely candidate, you can take a look at pictures of each species’ leaves, needles, fruit, cones, bark, profile, range map, and fall leaf color, which will allow you to pinpoint exactly what species of tree confronts you. Lest you forget the names of the trees you’ve already identified, a journal feature allows you to personalize the application and keep track of your finds.
Is this app a boon for nature lovers, or simply a way for the technologically-obsessed to keep from actually experiencing nature? As ever, the answer lies with the user. For those who genuinely dig trees, this iPhone app is most likely worth the $6.99 it costs to download it from the iTunes Store. For those simply interested in showing off and looking smart while hiking with friends, though, this app is more likely to prove a source of embarrassment.