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Field guide at your fingertips

An innovative app that helps you get up close and personal with the city’s trees

With vanishing tree covers, no thanks to poorly executed infrastructure projects and villainous mealy bugs, here is a handy app that will be every tree-hugger’s delight. iTrees, a free mobile app for Android developed by iNatureWatch, covers 50 common tree species across Mumbai, Hyderbad and Kolkata.

The app also crowdsources information, and you can contribute your bit under the Add Sighting app once you register with the site. On the left is a picture of a variegated bauhinia, commonly seen in the city parks. Pic/Sharad Vegda
The app also crowdsources information, and you can contribute your bit under the Add Sighting app once you register with the site. On the left is a picture of a variegated bauhinia, commonly seen in the city parks. Pic/Sharad Vegda

The app, conceptualised by Dr Shubhalaxmi Vaylure and Issac Kehimkar, was originally intended to study climate change impact on urban biodiversity since seasonal variations affect flowering, fruiting and leaf fall. And who said serious does not mean a whole lot of fun? Curious to try it out, we tested the app on Dr SS Rao Road and were pleasantly surprised to ascertain the variety of trees in the area with the app’s assistance.

Intended for students and environmental educators, the app simplifies terms such as “palmately compound” or “intersecting ridges” with symbols and images aplenty. After browsing through the “All Trees” section, we spotted the usual suspects —bottle palms, frangipanis, a banyan, and a few peepals. But, we also identified a pretty variegated bauhinia in a nearby park, using the info provided in this section.

Finer details of trees housed in “Explore Trees” and “About Trees”, such as the arrangement of leaves or the bark texture, will help you name more, but with some difficulty at times. We pondered over what looked like a scholar’s tree (also known as the blackboard tree), but couldn’t be sure, with no flowers or fruits in sight.

We are in the middle of a sweltering autumn, and one may have to note flowering seasons to make optimum use of this app. On the other hand, a wild fig, with young green fruits, was easier to spot and lock, on the other hand. The app gives additional info, such as how a scholar's tree wood is used to make slates for school students. All in all, iTree helps you appreciate what was right before you all the time.

Try out iTrees with Shubhalaxmi Vaylure on a ‘Tree Walk n Talk’
Where: Urban Haat Complex, Belapur, Navi Mumbai
When: October 25, 7.30 AM - 9.30 AM
Call: 9987013144

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