This past weekend, I went for a beautiful hike to Landslide Lake, north of Campbell River in Strathcona Park. I’ve always enjoyed looking at the different flora and fauna when going on hikes in new areas that I haven’t seen before. With the thought of place-based apps on my mind due to this project, I couldn’t help but look for other good ones that might come in handy for students as they explore the outdoors and their backyard. That is when I noticed just how many different mushrooms and colours there were on this one hike alone and thought it interesting to look for a fungi identification app.
Picture Mushroom had good ratings and was one of few that I found available on the itunes app store. The app is pretty self-explanatory and uses images taken of mushrooms to identify and provide information on the species of mushroom. I had a lot of fun discovering different mushrooms and couldn’t believe the variety there was. I figured this would be a fun and easy topic for students because there are so many
types of mushrooms and they are really easy to find along forest trails. The downside of the app is that it is only free for a week and then it costs 25.99 as an annual fee, although it would be possible to use the week long free trial as a mini unit for students, and add incentive to identify the most possible within that time frame. Another critique is that it seems to only work where there is an internet connection, but because there is no reception in many parks and on hikes in the area anyway, I had no problem taking pictures throughout the hike and then inserting them all in the app once I returned home. This also allows for less screen time while actually out on the hike, because pictures are quick, and the identifications can be made later at school or at home. Here are a few of the different mushrooms I found along the trail to Landslide Lake:
These images were all taken on the hike without reception and then added to the app when I got home so that I could identify them over wifi. The information that is linked to the app seems to come from wikipedia, drawing on the images on the various wiki pages to match the mushroom types to existing pages about them. For the most
part I had success identifying most of them, although not every mushroom had the same amount of information about them. The app contains the scientific classification of each mushroom, as well as a gallery of photos (for those possible) and a description, some in more depth than others.
The app also contains a library of all mushrooms identified by the user which would be a good way of keeping track of student progress. There is however a limit of identifications possible with the week long free trial vs the paid premium version.
Here are a few more screenshots of my progress on the site for a visual of how it is laid out in steps:
I do think there must be some other apps out there that are free and contain a bit of a stronger database to draw information from, but as a starting point or just to give students a taste of how apps can be used in nature, it is an easy one to use and understand. Despite the restrictions of a week trial, I still enjoyed collecting the fungi and finding out what they were after the fact. I identified a total of six on the hike and it had not cut me off for identifications yet either, so each student could still make a few identifications each on a trip.