What I want to do
I'm playing with available resources for residents to identify, document, monitor and even manage the urban canopy. Cash strapped cities are increasingly relying on residents to help and I want to see what it takes for the average resident, who doesn't have any kind of arboreal background, to be helpful. Fortunately I'm the perfect test subject as I know virtually nothing.
My attempt and results
I started by downloading OpenTreeMap with the intent of seeing what I can put on the map within the 30 day trial period. First I created a map for my location (Berlin, Germany), then downloaded the mobile app. Pretty easy and straightforward.
I then looked through apps to help with tree identification. LeafSnap, which can id a tree based on a photo of a leaf was out as it's winter. Virginia Tech's was attractive because it was free and could download an inventory based on my location. But it told me no trees grow at my lat/long and altitude. Which is funny because the horse chestnuts must rain down every fall from somewhere.
I ended up shelling out $2.50 for "Baumportal" (Tree Portal) as it had a nice winter features function. Sadly it didn't seem all that helpful with my limited knowledge. In my short outing to the park down the street I wasn't able to identify any trees based on the buds and other winter feature pictures it carried, so I had to rely on my own limited knowledge.
Horse Chestnuts are pretty common though it was unclear to me whether we have the Red Horsechestnut (Aesculus x carnea) or Aesculus hippocastanum. Those were the options OpenTreeMap had and I guessed and added a few Aesculus hippocastanum to test the app. I got them on the map alright, and was able to use the GPS on my phone to geolocate them. Unfortunately the GPS on my Samsung Galaxy doesn't appear to be that reliable so, it probably makes more sense to do as the city does and simply reference trees by closest address.
The next tree I came upon I couldn't identify but it has a seed pod that probably will be a big help. Across the street were cherry blossom trees that had been blooming in the spring. My guess is that they are Prunus serrulata as the city is planting this variety, but OpenTreeMap wouldn't save the info.
Questions and next steps
Well, this got me out the door and playing a bit with available tools and knowledge. The big question is the best approach to expanding the types of trees I can successfully ID. I have some photos from today to look at, and will also look for any online resources specific to Berlin. It would be a big help to know what I should expect to find. Another possibility is to try to get an inventory from the city, OpenTreeMap contacted me and offered to upload such a file if I can get it.