About Arbolapp

Arbolapp is an initiative of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC; Spanish National Research Council) led by the Deputy Vicepresident for Scientific Culture and the Real Jardín Botánico (Royal Botanic Gardens). It is funded by the Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología (FECYT; Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology).

TEAM

  • Pilar Tigeras

    CSIC Deputy Vicepresident for Scientific Culture

    Project manager

  • Eduardo Actis Monserrat

    CSIC Scientific Culture

    Idea and coordination

  • Felipe Castilla Lattke

    GIBIF Spain (RJB-CSIC)

    Content manager

  • Mónica Lara

    CSIC Scientific Culture

    Project follow up and content editing

  • Violeta Vicente

    CSIC Scientific Culture

    Project follow up and content editing

  • María Bellet

    RJB-CSIC Scientific Culture

    Project follow up and content editing

  • Esther García Guillén

    RJB-CSIC Library

    Project monitoring

  • Elena Amat de León

    PhD in biology

    Contributor to texts and illustrations

  • Leopoldo Medina

    RJB-CSIC Herbarium

    Scientific adviser

  • Esneda Cristina Castilla Lattke

    Graduate in Hispanic philology

    Content editing

  • Alejandro Quintanar

    RJB-CSIC Scientific Culture

    Content editing

PHOTOGRAPHS: Felipe Castilla Lattke (Colaborators: Carlos Aedo, Luis María Ferrero, Joaquín Ramírez)
ILLUSTRATIONS: Flora iberica: Juan Castillo, Pedro Díaz Alonso, José María Pizarro, Eugenio Sierra Ràfols; Elena Amat de León
MAIN SCIENTIFIC SOURCES: Flora iberica, Anthos program, Atlas of invasive alien plants of Spain
TRANSLATION: Chris Ellison, AEIOU Traductores
APP DESIGN AND PROGRAMMING: Mobile One2one
WEB DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT: estudiovariable.com

User guide

With Arbolapp you can identify and find out more details about the most common wild trees on the Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands. So that your experience is as satisfactory as possible, please take in account the following points:

1. Arbolapp includes the most common wild trees in the biogeographical unit made up by Andorra, continental Portugal, peninsular Spain and the Balearic Islands. The Spanish and Portuguese archipelagos of the North Atlantic (islands of the Canaries, Madeira, Azores, Cape Verde and the Savage Isles) are not included in this project because they correspond to a different unit, the Macaronesian region, with flora more similar to that of northern Africa. However, the Arbolapp team is working on a new app specifically dedicated to trees from the Canaries.

2. The best place to identify trees using Arbolapp is in their natural environment. The content includes wild species, i.e., those which grow naturally in forests or fields, without human intervention. The species that are normally cultivated and that only occasionally naturalise are not included. That is the case of some fruit trees (e.g., apple, quince, medlar, and various plums) and numerous forest and garden plants have been left out (e.g., cedars, cypresses and some palms). Therefore, this app will not always be able to help you identify the trees you find in parks, gardens, streets, orchards and other agricultural and forestry land.

3. Wild trees may either be native to the region or non-native species introduced by humans that have become established in the wild. Among the non-native species are those that have been cultivated since ancient times (e.g., the common pear, almond, London plane, white mulberry, pomegranate and date palm), those which have a considerable range as cultivated forest (e.g., eucalyptuses, Monterey pines, Canadian poplars, bay willows and basket willows), or which are garden plants (e.g., honey locust, tree of heaven, and black locust). All of these have escaped and become naturalised and, in some cases, they have become invasive, displacing the native vegetation.

4. Arbolapp is dedicated to trees and arborescent shrubs. According to the botanical dictionary Botßnica de Font Quer, a tree is a ôwoody plant, at least 5 m tall, with a simple stem (in this case known as a ‘trunk’) up to the so-called ‘crux’, which branches out in the form of a crown, with considerable growth in its thicknessö. It is not always easy to differentiate trees from shrubs, because there are species that can take a tree or shrub form according to the circumstances. Arbolapp includes all the species of trees on the Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands and most of the shrubs that can naturally become trees , known as ‘arborescent shrubs’. Keep in mind that the development of some of these species is limited by adverse ecological conditions, slow growth, or the action of humans, so they are often seen in shrub form.

5. When you are identifying a tree, try to observe more than one specimen or, at least, look at different parts of the plant. Trees are living beings that are conditioned in their growth and aspect by many factors: climate, soil, altitude, time of the year, age, problems and deformations caused by disease or attacks by herbivores or parasites, human intervention, and so on. Therefore, some characteristics can vary or be more irregular, and this makes it advisable to have the greatest possible amount of information.

6. In the case of the leaves, which in Arbolapp are the main identification elements, we recommend that you observe the completely developed adult examples, as well as looking at different parts of the plant and not only at the ends of the branches, as in some species they are arranged differently in the middle or at the ends. It is also a good idea to look at the ground to find old leaves from the previous year if the new ones are not yet sufficiently developed.

7. You can choose between two types of search: guided or open. The guided search involves a series of alternatives where you have to choose the statement that agrees or is most similar to the characteristics of the tree which you want to identify. The option you choose will send you to another alternative, and so on until you arrive at a genus or species. The open search allows you to mark the most obvious characteristics of the tree you are looking at until you find the species, or at least a few options to choose between which will include the one that you are looking for.

8. If at any point in the search you have a doubt and do not know which option to select, you can choose one of these possibilities:

> It may be that you cannot find the organs or parts of the tree you need to look at in order to select an option. For example the flowers and fruit are generally visible for a shorter period in the year than the leaves. In this case, we recommend you click ‘See possible trees’. This will allow you to consult the information sheets for the species the search has narrowed it down to up to this point, and you can look at these to find the species you are trying to identify.

> If, however, you are able to see the characteristics indicated but none of the options is appropriate for the tree you are trying to identify, it may be that you have made a mistake in a previous step. In this situation you have the option of going back to any of the previous steps and choosing a new alternative.

> Finally, if several or all of the options seem valid, keep in mind the fact that the characteristics of trees can be very variable, even within a single specimen. For this reason, in certain steps some species have two or three entries, where more than one option has been included. This means that when more than one of the alternatives is true for the characteristic you are looking at, you can choose any of them.

9. The end result of the search is a tree’s information sheet or a list of trees. Arbolapp has 122 information sheets, 119 of which are of species and three of which are genera: Tamarix, which includes 6 species, Acacia, 11 species, and Eucalyptus, 7. In these cases it is not possible to reach a species because identification at this level is complex even for people with botanical knowledge. For other genera, such as Pinus (pines), Populus (poplars), Quercus (oaks), Salix (willows), and Sorbus (rowans), it will probably be difficult to arrive at species level, due to their morphological variability, the ease with which they hybridise with other species in the genus, or the presence of reforested areas using similar-looking non-native species.

10. Arbolapp is aimed at anyone who wishes to begin looking at or improve their knowledge of the wild trees in their surroundings. For this reason, a special effort has been made to use easy-to-understand language and simple explanations. The most technical terms, sometimes necessary in order to understand the botany, are highlighted so you can click on them to find out their meaning, although they also appear in the app’s glossary.

11. The texts, maps, illustrations and photographs in Arbolapp are based on the scientific knowledge generated by the Real Jardín Botánico (RJB; Royal Botanical Garden), which is part of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC; Spanish National Research Council). The reference work used in the selection of trees is Flora iberica, developed by Spanish and Portuguese research personnel at the RJB and intended for identifying the vascular plants of the Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands. However, we have taken into consideration the latest revisions, specialist consults and the nomenclature changes forced by the application of the rules referring to the classification, retention or rejection of the names accepted in Flora iberica. In developing the distribution maps for each species we have included both the natural range as well as the zones where the trees in this guide have become established in the wild. As a complement to this we have also used the program Anthos, which is developed by the RJB with support of Fundación Biodiversidad, to provide information on the internet about the biodiversity of plants in Spain. We have also used various scientific papers and oral communications given by researchers in the field of botany. Additionally, for invasive species, their current distribution was updated according to the Atlas of invasive alien plants of Spain.

Terms of Use

The entire content of this application (texts, photographs, illustrations and maps) may be copied and distributed in any medium or format under the BY-NC-ND 4.0 Creative Commons License:

• Attribution. It is necessary to credit the author as follows: Arbolapp (CSIC/FECYT).
• Non-commercial. This work may only be used for non-commercial ends.
• No derivative works. Permission to use this work does not include its transformation to create a derivative work.

FAQ's

Why have some species been chosen and not others?

Arbolapp deals with the most common wild trees found in the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands, i.e., the species that grow spontaneously and without human intervention in the natural environment. The guide includes all the autochthonous, or native, species from the area, as well as the non-native ones, introduced by human beings, that most frequently become established in the wild.

These choices have been made with three aims in mind:

1) To increase people’s knowledge of the plants native to the Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands, and which are studied at the CSIC’s Real Jardín Botánico (Royal Botanical Garden).

2) To create a useful identification tool, that helps the user determine, in the simplest possible way, which species they are looking at. This means limiting the number of species in the app, as the more that are included, the more complex the identification system becomes. Imagine, for example, having to go through 40 steps in a search to get a result.

3) To encourage the user to recognise where they can best use Arbolapp satisfactorily. The fact that the application deals with wild trees means that almost all the species we find in our natural surroundings can be identified. This means the most suitable place to use it is in the natural environment. On the other hand, in parks, gardens, streets, orchards and other agricultural and forest lands it will only be useful for identifying wild trees, because cultivated species that do not normally become established in the wild, or which do so only occasionally, are not included.

How many species are there in Arbolapp?

At the moment Arbolapp includes 143 species that are organised onto 122 information sheets: 119 individual species sheets and three that group the Acacia (11 species), Eucalyptus (7) and Tamarix (6) genera. In these cases there are no information sheets for the individual species because, given their similarities, they are difficult to differentiate even for people with botanical knowledge.

Why are there no trees from the Canary Islands?

The criterion used to limit what Arbolapp contains has nothing to do with national borders, but rather biogeography. The Balearic Islands and Iberian Peninsula make up a territorial unit in terms of their flora. Politically, this unit includes peninsular and Balearic Spain, continental Portugal, and Andorra. The Spanish and Portuguese archipelagos of the North Atlantic (islands of the Canaries, Madeira, Azores, Cape Verde and the Savage Isles) are not included in this app because they correspond to a different unit, the Macaronesian region, with flora more similar to that of northern Africa.

Incorporating a large number of very different species in a single identification system would only make it harder to recognise them. For this reason, the Canarian trees deserve a specific Arbolapp, project which we are currently working on and expect to launch in the coming months.

How do I identify a tree?

You can choose between two types of search: guided and open. The guided search involves a series of alternatives where you have to choose the statement that agrees or is most similar to the characteristics of the tree which you want to identify. The option you choose will send you to another alternative, and so on until you arrive at a genus or species. If as you progress you have doubts or you see that the app has not taken you to a valid possibility, you can return to the previous step and look for another alternative. The open search allows you to mark the most obvious characteristics of the tree you are looking at until you find the species, or at least a few options to choose between which will include the one that you are looking for.

What should I do if at one point in the search I have a doubt and do not know which option to select?

In this case, various possibilities are open to you:

It may be that you cannot find the organs or parts of the tree you need to look at in order to select an option. For example the flowers and fruit are generally visible for a shorter period in the year than the leaves. In this case, we recommend you click ‘See possible trees’. This will allow you to consult the information sheets for the species the search has narrowed it down to up to this point, and you can look at these to find the species you are trying to identify.

If, however, you are able to see the characteristics indicated but none of the options is appropriate for the tree you are trying to identify, it may be that you have made a mistake in a previous step. In this situation you have the option of going back to any of the previous steps and choosing a new alternative.

Finally, if several or all of the options seem valid, keep in mind the fact that the characteristics of trees can be very variable, even within a single specimen. For this reason, in certain steps some species have two or three entries, where more than one option has been included. This means that when more than one of the alternatives is true for the characteristic you are looking at, you can choose any of them.

Why can’t I take a photo to identify the tree?

Arbolapp’s aim is to increase people’s knowledge of Iberian trees. We thought that the best way to do this was by encouraging the users to observe the trees and make decisions. We think that finding out the name of a species from a photograph is a much less rich experience than identifying it by using an Arbolapp search, which poses questions that can only be solved by looking closely at the specimen you want to identify.

Do I need an internet connection to use the app?

No. The app is designed to be used in the natural environment, even in areas where you have no internet connection. Once downloaded, all its content and functions are available offline.

Why does the app take up 70 MB?

Arbolapp is designed to be used in the natural environment, even in areas where you have no internet connection. So that all its content and functions are available offline, everything is integrated into the initial installation package. The reason this takes up 70 MB of memory is because of the images: Arbolapp includes more than 500 illustrations and more than 500 photos.