A useful website to help identify plants is the Noble Foundation’s online Plant Image Gallery at http://www.noble.org/imagegallery. It is divided into sections on grasses and grass-like plants; forbs; and trees, shrubs and woody vines. Each section contains an index of common names, scientific names and family. Multiple full-color photographs of each entry enhance a user’s ability to correctly identify the plant in question.

The "Image Gallery Search Engine" is a new tool that allows users to choose criteria about an unknown plant from dropdown menus and then run a search for potential matches.

"It can be very time consuming to browse the gallery if you have no idea what you are looking for," says Chuck Coffey, a pasture and range specialist at Noble and one of the co-creators of the site. "The user will now be able to take a plant to the computer and work through the search engine in an attempt to identify it."

The new search engine is enhanced with pictorial keys for menu items such as leaf structure and fruit type, letting users see drawings and definitions of the characteristics and choose the right one for the plant they want to identify, Coffey says.

Coffey stresses that the closer users are to southern Oklahoma and North Texas, the greater the likelihood of them finding plants in Noble's Plant Image Gallery that are common to their region.