First-ever wildflower identification app launched for Nepal


Dreaming of your next trip to Nepal? Or going through photos and memories from your last trip? High Country Apps announced a new app, called "Wildflowers of Mount Everest", the first-ever wildflower identification app for Nepal. The app virtually transports travelers to the world’s highest peak and showcases its remarkable native flora through beautifully detailed images and easy-to-use graphical keys.

In this time of armchair travel, "Wildflowers of Mount Everest" provides a fun way to learn about the little-known flora of a stunning World Heritage Site. True, most people visit Nepal to see the dramatic peaks and glaciers. But beauty, trekkers soon discover, lies beside the trail as well.

Nepal’s flora is unique in all the world, being specially adapted to survive at high elevation, through cold winters and wet summer monsoons. In spring, trekkers are treated with luxuriant displays of rhododendrons and primroses, covering whole mountainsides with color. Summer brings the beautiful and sometimes bizarre alpine blossoms, such as Hippolytia gossypina (tansy) with its white-haired pillars topped by clusters of golden flowers. Fall trekking season is painted with the blue of gentians and the bright red and yellow autumn foliage of the shrubs and trees.

"Wildflowers of Mount Everest", designed for iOS and Android devices, provides more than 2 500 beautifully detailed images of more than 550 wildflowers, shrubs and trees that grow on the slopes and trails near Mount Everest in Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal. Those images are available for review and exploration, bringing a bit of Nepal into your home now. "Wildflowers of Mount Everest" offers easy-to-use graphical keys, botanical help, detailed descriptions and plant lore to identify and explore Nepal’s remarkable species. The app does not require a cellular or internet connection, so it can be used anywhere - be it on the trail in Nepal or in your living room.

To produce the app, High Country Apps partnered with vegetation ecologist Elizabeth Byers, the Flora of Nepal Project and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Nepal. Designed for trekkers and amateur nature buffs, as well as experienced botanists, "Wildflowers of Mount Everest" will appeal to anyone who wants to identify or learn about plants in the Mount Everest region.

According to Gopal Prakash Bhattarai, Director General of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Nepal, the app is perfect for “students, educators, scientists, guides and visitors interested in the beautiful wildflowers of Nepal’s Mount Everest region.” Bhattarai also notes that the app will be a “useful tool for park rangers and scouts as they work to conserve the park’s floral diversity.”

“Two things make this field guide special,” said Elizabeth Byers, who has spent much of the last 40 years identifying, photographing and cataloging specimens of the subalpine and alpine flora of eastern Nepal. “First, the Sherpa elders who have graciously shared plant lore and stories to give us a glimpse of the cultural importance of each species. Second, the botanical experts from all over the world who have volunteered their knowledge of the unique and specially-adapted plants of Mount Everest.”

"The Wildflowers of Mount Everest" app is available from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for 7.99 USD. The authors will periodically update the app to include new species and other content at no additional charge to users. High Country Apps is proud to support the Flora of Nepal Project through its donation of a portion of the app proceeds, which will be used to support the field costs of Nepali students or to buy field equipment that will allow Nepali researchers to conduct botanical studies.

Photo from Richard Slaby

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