Proposing a microformat to describe a particular plant, classified by its latin name. Plants all have common attributes associated with them related to appearance, growing conditions, disease, pests, maintenance etc. Many websites publish information about plants, but as yet this information is not open to exchange and aggregation.
To collect information on the current status of plant related information on the web.
Here are a few possible applications:
- Collection of distributed plant information from the web into larger plant databases. There is a lot of information currently available on the web both in large plant databases and indivual's sites, but there is no way to efficiently build a reference material on top of this.
- Plant catalogs can be published by retailers and the information about what can be bought where, can be easily aggregated.
- Building up personal catalogs of plants, so I can have a customized view on my own plants that I grow, telling me more about them.
- Mark Gibbons
Crocus is an plant catalog containing listings of plants available for purchase online. Many nurseries and garden centers now offer online purchasing possibilities. There are hundreds if not thousands of similar sites currently online, both big and small. Other examples are:
- Stokes Seeds
- Garden Express
- Ashridge Hedging & Trees
- Digging dog nursery
- Bluegrass Gardens Nursery
Growstuff has a crop database of edible plants, and allows members to record what they have planted and harvested (like a garden journal), keep track of what seeds they have, etc. Each crop page has basic information about the crop (name, scientific name(s), etc) as well as planting and growing information aggregated from members' garden journals (eg. "plant in full sun or semi shade", "plant from seedling or root division"). Planting information, though at present global, is intended to be offered specifically for local environments -- a crop that grows in full sun in a cool temperate climate may require shade in a warmer one. Similarly, planting dates vary widely according to hemisphere and climate.
One important point to note is that species identifiers are highly problematic for gardeners, especially when it comes to food crops, as many food crops share a species. For instance, all varieties of lettuce are the same species, as are all varieties of tomato. All chilli/pepper varieties are just 4 species, all squashes (from zucchini to giant pumpkins) share just 3 species, etc. Even subspecies/varieties/etc don't work, as for instance kale and collard greens are both "Brassica oleracea var. acephela". These distinctions are important to food gardeners and cooks, though presumably not to biologists.
Paghat's garden is an individual's site, documenting the plants grown in one garden. It is a good example of a gardener sharing useful information via the website. Currently the amount of information shared on the internet by individual gardener's on there own site or via a blog is limited. Given the right tools and incentives, the sharing of information in this way will increase.
The BBC maintains a large database of plants for use in their gardening site. Information from the "plant finder" contains:
- Common Name: Blue African lily
- Genus: Agapanthus
- Cultivar: 'Lilliput'
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Exposure: Full sun
- Hardiness: Hardy
- Soil type: Well-drained/light, Moist
- Height: 40cm
- Spread: 40cm
- Time to divide plants: March to April
- Flowering period: August to September
Standing at only 40cm (16in) high, 'Lilliput'is perfect for smaller gardens and patio containers. Its trumpet-shaped rich blue flowers add a touch of the exotic to displays from mid- to late summer. Grow in moist but well-drained soil in a sunny spot. In colder areas, put on a dry mulch for winter.
- Botanical names are often used as the title. More on botanical names here.
- Common attributes are readily identifiable. Such as
- water requirements
- light requirements
- temperature requirements
- plant type (tree, shrub, perrenial)
- soil requirements
- Some of the above attributes have been standardized already such as temperature requirements, others vary more, but have common features.
- Plant appearance is often described as free text.
- Images are often associated with plants.
- Other attempts to solve The Problem
- Early drafts
- Link to related pages as they become available
- - proposal
- Other microformats
- Normative references for tags used