How did eflora community evolve?
Efloraofindia was initially set up in June, 2007 as a means of identifying tree species, but it rapidly became apparent that other plants needed to be included. It currently attempts to identify not only Indian trees but shrubs, herbs, grasses and sedges, cultivated plants and flowers, mosses and liverworts, fungi etc. The broadened scope of the group could mean that it appeals to a wider range of people and hopefully will attract experts from taxonomic groups other than Indian trees.
Conscious that a large amount of information on Indian Flora was accumulating, I set about creating a Database for the benefit of the group’s members. If any plant already in the database came up for discussion again, it would be a simple matter of accessing the Efloraofindia database as it contains information about botanical names, common names, flowering data, earlier ‘Efloraofindia’ thread links, and other useful links giving relevant information about a particular plant. All the posts made on Efloraofindia were included in the database in the form of a hyper link that could be followed to reveal the information stored previously. The information available in the Database was not just for the layperson though. Details of taxonomic treatments by and for expert botanists were also available.
Subsequently, around Oct.’10, Efloraofindia (eFI in short) website was created & updated on daily basis, for documenting flora of India that is being discussed on efloraofindia google e-group along with supplementing the working of the group. A species database has also been created here family wise & then followed genus wise. Intent of this database is compilation of all the posts on ‘efloraofindia’ e- group so that it’s useful to all concerned as all the data about a particular species will be available in a single species’ page & easily searchable. It is the largest database on net on Indian Flora with details of more than 8000 species (and with more than 1,60,000 pictures at efloraofindia e-group links).
When did you start the group and how was the idea conceived?
I have long been interested in the avifauna of India, at first using photography to capture the beauty that lay all around him, and later using the Internet to connect with people that had similar interests. I quickly learned that there was hardly any e-group devoted to photographing, identification, discussion, learning etc. on Indian Flora.
I considered the idea of an Internet group dedicated to discussion and identification of Indian trees after getting deeply inspired from ‘The Monk who Sold his Ferrari’ by Robin Sharma. But I was worried that such a mundane subject would not attract enough people to achieve these ends. People would not only have to join the group, but also participate, offering up pictures of trees for identification and, just as importantly, be prepared to identify other people’s pictures and discuss these identifications. The thought of starting a group and then having it fail raced my mind time & again. But thoughts from the book by Robin Sharma (an expert in leadership and personal development), made me think otherwise. I learnt the value of focus, of passion & of helping others, and of a desire for excellence from it. With these attributes, I thought, Efloraofindia could not fail.
And so, on a June day in 2007, Efloraofindia (earlier Indiantreepix) Google e-group was born. I wrote to different persons and other e-groups for membership and by the end of the month Efloraofindia had around 112 messages, with a membership of around 50 members.
How can users contact and submit pictures for identification?
One can visit & join ‘efloraofindia’ by clicking at Efloraofindia google e-group & then clicking on ‘Sign in’ & then ‘Sign up’ on next page OR by sending an e-mail request to <email@example.com>. One should also mention his/ her full name, occupation (optionally: qualification, professional attachments etc.) and place & why he/ she wants to become a member.
One can see Detailed & Brief posting guidelines at https://sites.google.com/site/efloraofindia/posting-guidelines. For posting to the group, members have to e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org by way of submitting pictures for identification, requesting any other information about any of their queries etc.
The group is not just for plants but also for birds and trees… How many different taxonomic groups do you cover?
Our group mainly covers seed plants (angiosperms), ferns (Pteridophyta), fungi, lichen, mosses (Lycopodiophyta including Bryophytes) etc. & any other things directly related to them (through pictures).
Are you also in touch with such other international groups/ communities?
Yes, I am a member of around 25 national & international groups/ communities.
How long does it usually take to identify a particular unknown specimen through your group?
Generally a day is more than enough for common species. But uncommon one may take more time. We make our efforts to get all posted plants identified. More than 95% of the plants get identified.
Eflora community has one of the largest database, approximately how many species has the group covered up till now?
Efloraofindia (eFI in short) website helps in documenting flora of India that is being discussed on ‘efloraofindia’ e-group along with supplementing the working of the group. It has the largest database on net on Indian Flora with details of more than 8000 species (and with more than 1,60,000 pictures at efloraofindia e-group links). A species database has also been created here family wise & then followed genus wise. Intent of this database is compilation of all the posts on ‘efloraofindia’ e- group so that it’s useful to all concerned as all the data about a particular species will be available under a single head & easily searchable. Around eight thousand species’ pages of seed plants, ferns, fungi & others are available with details for those species which have already been discussed in effloraofindia e-group. It is the largest database on net on Indian Flora.
Currently there are more than 2085 members & 1,53,000 messages as on 30.4.13. Efloraofindia (eFI in short) is the largest google e-group in the world in this field & the largest nature related e-group (and the most constructive) in India devoted to creating awareness, helping in identification etc. along with discussion on & documentation of Indian Flora.
What are the future plans of eflora community?
Some of our future plans are:
- Encourage more persons from diverse background to join in and learn and contribute.
- efloraofindia website to maintain leadership position as the best resource on net on Indian Flora
- Prepare comprehensive keys for families and important Genera.
- More & more botanical excursions to be organised by our members.
- Adding around new 1000 species to efloraofindia website every year.
- To maintain the pace of adding 40,000 images to efloraofindia website every year.
How can a user use this group? (How can user search information on different species? How can a user post information about different species?
I think the easiest way is to search in efi website at https://sites.google.com/site/efloraofindia/home.
If you remember the species, search on it.
If you only remember the genus search on it & then move to the species from the list.
If you remember any local name/ word , search on it. If you are looking for all the posts on a species, search for that species. Like this there are endless possibilities. This can also be done if you google search on any particular word/ species with additional search words as ‘+ efloraofindia’
For posting to the group, e-mail to email@example.com. Users can interact with other members by replying to their queries. Either of the two ways user can post information about different species.
Apart from the source on internet, is there any offline information provided by your community in the form of books, floras etc?
Lot of our members are expert in various groups of plants & publish new species, books, papers etc. Some of these can be seen at the following links:
More about our members including moderators- Links
Some recent works of our members including moderators
Details of some important contributors
New books on Indian Flora- Details
Are you someone or do you know someone who is active in the field of environment for the larger benefit of communities? Drop us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with a short introduction and contact details. We will get in touch with you for an interview.