And yet, no tomacco.
December 6, 2006 8:08 PM   Subscribe

"The USDA PLANTS database provides standardized information about the vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichens of the U.S. and its territories." Among the highlights are a list of culturally significant plants and a searchable image gallery you can submit photos to. Forestry Images is a similar USDA-supported site dedicated to silviculture.

If that isn't enough for you, click on over to the Germplasm Resources Information Network. There, you'll find a smorgasbord of information on virtually all the food varieties commercially raised in the US: where the germplasm is held, lists of species at each site, detailed descriptions of individual accessions (e.g., cultivars), even who owns the Red Silk Radish. If it grows and you can eat, drink, smoke or inject it, the USDA probably has it cataloged. And if they don't, search one of these.
posted by cog_nate (7 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Yow, I can't believe the volume of resources here. I just looked up "pin oak" for my Dad, and now I have everything he'd possibly want to know - and then some.
posted by Liosliath at 8:49 PM on December 6, 2006

Is it possible to browse the image gallery rather than search it by some text tag? Seems to me the main use of an image gallery is to ID something you don't recognize, like a nature guidebook. Having to already know what your specimen is before you can see it sort of defeats the point. Did I miss something?
posted by jfuller at 4:07 AM on December 7, 2006

Wow- I never thought I'd see GRIN as a FPP.... the whole NPGS system is rather 'under the radar' unless you actually work in plant breeding. cog_nate- how did you find out about us? (I work in an NPGS lab near DC)?
posted by gadavis at 5:44 AM on December 7, 2006

Botany TAs around the nation just got pwned by this post. It would be sweet if all the plant identification info could be turned into an actual identification key. As they are now dichotomous keys are like 'choose your own adventure' books from hell, a very nerdy hell. I'm sure eventually we'll have a free, exhaustive online key we can use. No more, "Turn to page 19... Turn to page 34... Turn to page 1134... Turn to page 2045..." "Oh, man those leaves are actually pinnate! Dammit!" "Go back to page 12..."
posted by Science! at 6:19 AM on December 7, 2006

Awesome post, cog_nate, I can't wait to pass this on to my dad.
posted by saladin at 6:59 AM on December 7, 2006

gadavis, the paperback The Best Apples to Buy and Grow mentions the GRIN website in its introductory chapter. For some reason, it's not mentioned in the online version.
posted by cog_nate at 8:22 AM on December 7, 2006

The USDA is an amazing resource for those that have pretty much anthing to do with working with the land.
posted by bigmusic at 9:15 AM on December 7, 2006

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