The first step to getting help is to Join Michigan Flora. Sounds easy enough. It is. Michigan Flora is a new Facebook page that focuses on plants and mushrooms in the Michigan area, but keep in mind, most of the plants found in Michigan are likely present in much of the Northern Mid-West and usually the North Eastern United States as well. Go to Facebook and search for the Michigan Flora Page. Follow the easy instructions and request to join. It should be less than 12 hours to get a response.
Something you will find a bit different about Michigan Flora, if you’ve ever been on other I.D. sites is that at Michigan Flora, it is OK to have a conversation, put in pictures just to show them off, ask any question about edibility, medicinal use and certainly ask for I.D. help. We won’t always have the answers, but at least you’ll know you aren’t the only one stumped.
Speaking of I.D. help, keep in mind that people looking at your plant or mushroom are only looking at pictures. Sometimes, pictures can be deceiving and usually don’t show the whole story.
Here are some guidelines for asking for Plant I.D. help.
- Take a photo of the entire plant.
- Take a close up of the leaf to show its growth pattern; the leaf itself and it’s relationship to the other leaves. The leaf itself should show the margin, veins, petiole, and both sides. The relation to other leaves on the plants should show if the leaves are simple or compound or complex and whether the leaves are opposite or alternate. The leaf pattern is a very important Identifier.
- The flower. Get a good close up of the flower that shows its connection to the plant and also the reproduction parts of the flower.
- The Fruit. Whether a nut, fleshy fruit or berry.
- If a tree, try to get a good shot of the bark on both the trunk and the branches.
Provide a brief description of what you have observed. Note where the plant was found, I.E. the forest, meadow, by water, with pines, hardwoods, sand dunes, etc.
Interesting enough, once you have considered these things, you might be able to identify the plant on your own. If you do, post it to Michigan Flora and brag about it.
The fungus among us are easier to photograph really, but harder to Identify. Rather than thousands of plants found in Michigan, as there are, Mushrooms number in the Millions of species. Some species within a Genus are exceptionally hard to nail down. Heck, some Genus’s within a Family are very hard to nail down. Here are some guidelines for Mushroom I.D. help.
- Take a picture of the top of the cap.
- Take a picture under the cap to see the gills or pore surface.
- Take a picture of the stipe (stem).
- Take a picture of the “root” ball or base. You may need to dig around the base to expose this part.
- Take a picture of the Mushroom itself.
- If you can, take a spore print.
Provide a brief description of what you have observed. What is the fungus growing on? Dead wood, live wood, meadow or forest floor; in clusters, singularly or groups.
Mushrooms often have very close associations with particular trees. Note what tree it was near. As mentioned, Mushrooms can present quite the challenge at getting an accurate species identification.
As always, with both mushrooms and plants, realize that the I.D. help you are getting is from pictures, not the real thing. People making suggestions as to I.D. or usability have varying levels of experience and education. Use the suggestions to point you in a direction where you then study and compare. Get professional, in person help on anything you intend to use that you are not 100% sure of.
Both Plants and Mushrooms are amazing and healthful. Both plants and mushrooms can make you very ill and both plants and mushrooms can kill you.