involved for every plant profile
The following document describes major part of the tasks involved to make a single plant profile page together with a very rough estimate of the time required per every part involved. The whole project is divided in the corresponding sections (chapters) and for each the approximate allocated time is given.
Every plant profile is divided into the following main tasks:
1) Nomenclature and identification.
a) Botanical species name (30 min - 2 hrs)
Sometimes it very easy to identify the plant's species name because it would be a rather common one. However for some less common plants it would need more time for accurate identification which involves searching info one reference books, internet sites or ask for consultation.
b) Other names, authority details, derivatives, synonyms, etc (1-2 hours)
Once the species is identified, the Maltese name and English names are searched for from few books available, sometimes in the national library / Melitensia. The Botanical Latin name derivation takes more time of research from some internet sites, especially if the name is an uncommon one. Information about the author of the plant is also gathered from certain internet sites and it takes some time in case of non popular authors. The plant's synonyms is the final part of this section and can take considerable time since a number of reference sites and books has to be checked to ensure hat most of the synonym names used for the plant are included in. Finally all data is coded in html to be viewed on internet browsers.
This involves searching some specimen of the plants in their wild habitat and take several photos. Photos include the whole plant, its habitat, macro close ups of several plant parts (flowers, bud, leaves, fruit, and seeds), and any interesting fauna such as common habitant insects or pollinators. Reaching the plant's site can take considerable time if it is quite far away (e.g.; Dingli/Buskett, Mellieha, MarsaXlokk, etc) and away from road. From experience, it is often needed to go 2 or even 3 times at different stages of the year since flowering, fruiting and seeding occurs at distant periods of the year that cannot be taken all in the same event.
Photography in the photo studio (3-4 hours)
Certain parts of the plant are collected in specimen bottles for closer examination and scanned digitally by a scanner to produce high resolution images. Sometimes, special photos are taken in the studio. Such parts are usually leaves, flowers, fruit and seeds. The plant parts which are most suitable or show typical characteristics are selected. Sometimes, the tiny seeds and/or pollen is photographed under a stereo microscope. This inquire further more time.Photo editing (4 hours)
Photos are transferred from the digital camera to the photo program. The best photos are selected, from a pool of about 60-80 photos. Each of the pre-selected photo is further edited (post processing) which includes cropping, resizing, adjusting exposure, implementing copyright sign, and in some photos adding annotations or highlight parts of interess. The same editing process takes place to the scanned images of plant parts, where these usually involve more editing work since many needs annotation text and markers. Finally the photos are saved in normal size and then each resized to thumbnail size.Extra photos (15 mins)
Other photos required are the thumbnail photo for the botanical index page, one for the intro pasrt of the plant profile, and finally one for the colour index pages.Extra pictures (0 - 1 hour)
i) Where necessary, other photos from the internet are obtained to add in the photo gallery. For example photos of closely related species, hybrids, hand-drawn illustrations, etc. (30 mins)
Finally html coding is required to make the photos appear both as linkable thumbnail photo gallery and also as a full image in an own custumized window, hence a html file is created for each photo. Finally a detailed caption giving as much specific info about the particular photo is included for each photo (30-40 photos per profile).
3) Plant Botanical description.
This is writing of few plant basic characteristics such plant habitat, sources in Malta, flowering time, height, etc. A rather quick process.
Table of Botanical data (2 hours)
This involves writing and describing the plant parts in botanical terms in easy to follow table form display. Once you have the plant to study it, this part is not difficult. However the html coding is again stressful and requires time to input about 40 different plant properties and characteristics, including diagrammatic pictures were applicable.
Plant description. (45 mins)
This involves writing a botanical description of the plant without using much jargon, or if such words are used, a short description is followed in adjecent brckets. The description is based on the life specimen (not copying other's descriptions) but notes from spme other books and references are often taken. This does not involve much html coding and is a straight forward task. Special attention has to be done on the English grammar and revising 2 or 3 times is obligatory.
4) Additional plant information.
This is one of the most time consuming parts of the task and the area that makes plant profiling one of the tougher jobs around. What makes a plant profile interesting and stand out is the additional, curious information. Such information may include medicinal properties, nativity, history, propagation and cultivation notes, chemical constituents, toxicity, other ethnobotanical uses in the past, legends+myths, and other relevant information including my personal observations and comments. Sometimes lot of info is found and the time taken is spent to gather the many sources of information into one account. On the other hand, info found is very limited but still lot of time is spent to keep searching persistentely maybe something relevant is finally found on the internet or books in the library. Personal observations and comments are always included. Additionally all sources of information is referenced in another webpage, which also takes its
share of time.
5) pH colour indicator analysis. (discontinued)
This is another interesting feature in the plant profile, but it requires some time and space at my daily full time work Laboratory (Public Health Lab). Since it is not much allowed to use Lab equipment for personal study, I had bought a personal pH meter (Hanna HI-9025) and some pH buffer solutions.
The colour extract is taken from the petals using 70%-80% ethanol and heated gently on electric heaters. The colour is easily extracted from the plant and is filtered off and concentrated by evaporation if required. The extract is transferred in 14 different buffer strengths (<1.0, 2.2, 3.0, 4.0, 4.6, 5.0, 5.6, 6.0, 6.6, 7.0, 7.6, 8.0, 8.6. 9.0. 10.0, 11.0, 12.0, 13.0, >14,0) The range of colours produced is noted and the results are displayed as a gradual colour graph along the full pH scale using a paint program on the PC.Usually another confirmable test if performed. An dilute acidic solution and the colour extract under test are transferred in a wide mouth flask. The pH meter probe is inserted in and the pH is recorded. A burette with dilute alkaline solution is used to add slowly alkaline solution to the acid in the flask. This is added slowly until a colour change is observed and the pH at which this happens is recorded. Alkali added until most of the pH range is scanned, typically from pH 1.5 to 13.2. The results, comments and conclusions are written and edited in the html code so that they are included in the plant profile. The whole process may take 4 hours
Unfortunately, from 2004 I have decided not to include further this part since it was a time-consuming process. I decided that on average a plant profile should not take more than 3 days and so had to strip off the time required to make a complete profile. There was not much choice and this part was the one which had to be left apart.
A list of other related pages and documents are further added at the end of the plant profile for further extended reference.
When all the data is inputted in the plant profile, it is completely read and revised carefully once, twice or more to correct any grammar, display, linking or html-code errors.
Other pages included in the website and requires some time for their continuous updating are: The news and update pages, fauna photogallery, visitor comments, flowering chart, and other minor pages.
When happy about the profile all the plant data (including html web page, photos, thumbnails, and additional documents) are uploaded via an ftp program to the web hosting store so that it can be published and seen on the internet.
Here is a table showing a summary of the parts involved in the project and the time required. It results that 30 - 40 working hours are required, which is equal to more or less 3 full days (10-12 hours per day).