Foodie Tuesday: Foraging with Wild Berries & Herbs by Nature Mobile

It’s high summer and the garden is bursting with vegetables, but don’t forget about the hedgerow! Nature’s bounty can be found in the wild too, and if you’ve ever wanted to get into foraging for food, now’s the perfect time! Wild Berries & Herbs HD by Nature Mobile is a mobile field guide to the most common species of berries, fruits, herbs and nuts found around the world. The app promises to teach you how to identify these wild species like a scientist — by focusing on every physical attribute from root to leaf to flower. It offers a database of 186 wild plants, both edible and toxic, and multiple tools to help you classify on the go, without an Internet connection.

If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at foraging but didn’t know where to start, keep reading to learn more about this handy field guide.

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Getting Started

Wild Berries & Herbs HD is a colorful field guide that uses clever icons and thousands of HD photographs to create an engaging, easy-to-use mobile interface. Launch the app and land on an attractive home screen with several options: Species Guide, Quiz Game, PhotoShare and More Apps. Select the Species Guide to jump right in.

The app is a colorful, fun, easy-to-use field guide that helps you identify species offers a fun Quiz Game to test your knowledge and enables users to share photos with the community.

The app is a colorful, fun, easy-to-use field guide that helps you identify species offers a fun Quiz Game to test your knowledge and enables users to share photos with the community.

The app designers have made it easy for users to access the main function of the app while still prominently displaying other options at the bottom of the screen. Before you get busy identifying species, you may want to check out the app Intro. This area contains all the requisite safety information you’d expect from a foraging app, such as avoiding polluted areas, respecting nature and only eating what you can identify with 100% accuracy. This section contains a wealth of good information, but sadly, you’ll have to read through big blocks of verbose text. A little design love could take advantage of the mobile interface, making content more enjoyable to consume.

Using the Field Guide

The beauty of this app is that it makes users feel smarter. It’s easy to hit the ground running, identifying wild plants and seeing your everyday environment in a whole new way. Select Identify at the bottom of the screen and you’ve got three options: Scientific Identifier, Visual Identifier and straight up searching the database. To browse all 186 species of berries, fruits, herbs, etc., tap the All icon at the bottom of the screen.

Browse all 186 species (left) or use the Scientific or Visual Identifier (right) to narrow down the available options by selecting certain criteria.

Browse all 186 species (left) or use the Scientific or Visual Identifier (right) to narrow down the available options by selecting certain criteria.

It’s good to have several ways to use the guide, depending on what information you already have. If you’re heading out for a walk in June and hoping to come across some elderflower but aren’t sure how to tell it apart from other hedgerow flowers, you’ll type a straight up search in the search box.

I searched for berries in Europe using the Scientific Identfier (left). The Visual Identifier is convenient for deciphering plants out in the field based on physical appearance (right).

I searched for berries in Europe using the Scientific Identfier (left). The Visual Identifier is convenient for deciphering plants out in the field based on physical appearance (right).

The Scientific Identifier helps you identify plants by narrowing down the available options based on criteria like plant type (berry, herb, nut), edibility, appearance, where the item is usually found across the globe and seasonality. You can select multiple options within each field, which is great. Another great feature is the ability to search by seasonality, so you can plan a foraging trip based on the month and see what’s in season.

By selecting icons for certain criteria (Leaf Type, Leaf Shape, Leaf Arrangement, Flower Color, etc.) using the Visual Identifier, you can quickly and easily identify the plant in question.

By selecting icons for certain criteria (Leaf Type, Leaf Shape, Leaf Arrangement, Flower Color, etc.) using the Visual Identifier, you can quickly and easily identify the plant in question.

The Visual Identifier is handy for deciphering plants when you’re out in the field. By selecting icons for certain criteria (Leaf Type, Leaf Shape, Leaf Arrangement, Flower Color, etc.) you can quickly and easily identify the plant in question. Icons are fun and thoughtfully designed to communicate without overwhelming users with wordy content.

Learning About Wild Edibles

Each field guide entry is accompanied by a handful of photographs to help you identify it in the wild. The HD photos are beautiful and showcase the plant up close and from afar, detailing foliage, flowers and roots. Familiar icons represent features of the plant, like whether or not it’s edible and when it’s in season. No Internet connection is needed to use the field guide, which is imperative for foraging in wild areas where 3G is a distant memory.

Each field guide entry comes with a slideshow of several photos, plus plenty of stats on the fruit, foliage and edibility.

Each field guide entry comes with a slideshow of several photos, plus plenty of stats on the fruit, foliage and edibility.

You’ll also find a ton of text describing the characteristics, habitat, uses and appearance of each field guide entry, as well as some backstory and recipe ideas. It’s great that the app is so generous with information, and nature lovers will find a ton of material to geek out on. The downside is that information dumping like this isn’t optimal for the mobile interface, and again, a little design love would make the content easier to digest.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Wild Garlic.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Wild Garlic.

The recipes are vague ideas, which seem to be intended to inspire rather than provide any real help in the kitchen. On the positive side, it’s helpful to be able to keep favorites all in one place, add personal notes to each field guide entry and locate entries you’ve recently viewed. The quiz game is fun and cleverly tests your knowledge by displaying photos of fruiting plants without the fruit, so you have to go by foliage.

Test your knowledge with the Quiz Game (left). See what other users are finding in the wild in the PhotoShare section (right).

Test your knowledge with the Quiz Game (left). See what other users are finding in the wild in the PhotoShare section (right).

PhotoShare is an interesting feature with tons of untapped potential to connect users and aide in the sharing of information. Here you can upload your own photos of wild plants or browse the photos of others. Sadly, if someone posts a photo and asks for help with identification, there’s no way for you to comment on it. Also, many photos don’t contain any location info, which would be really interesting to know. I tried to Browse by Location and couldn’t find any pushpins. Browsing by Species is painful because every species is listed and you have to select one to find out if there are any user photos. Most of the time there aren’t, which leads to a lot of wasted time looking. This part of the app could truly revolutionize field guides, but instead it looks like a good idea with no execution.

Conclusion

Wild Berries & Herbs by Nature Mobile is a fun and useful field guide for anyone with an interest in identifying wild edibles and foraging along the hedgerow. The price is pretty high ($9.99), but at least the app doesn’t skimp on information. It would be a great tool for the young scientist in your family (with parental supervision and guidance). Hopefully Nature Mobile will continue to expand the app capabilities to better connect users and facilitate community information sharing. If you’re looking for a field guide packed with good solid facts and photos to help identify wild edibles, you won’t be disappointed.


Summary

Wild Berries & Herbs by Nature Mobile is an extensive field guide to help you identify both edibles and non-edibles when foraging for berries, nuts and herbs.

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