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PlantSelector Program

Roadside planting help

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About PlantSelector

Woody and herbaceous plants for Minnesota landscapes and roadsides - a MnDOT expert system for selecting landscape plants

 

MnDOT’s Plant Selector program, Woody & Herbaceous plants for Minnesota Landscapes & Roadsides, was developed in 1995 and through several phases has been refined to become more user-friendly. The primary goal and objective of this program is to facilitate selecting the most appropriate plants for landscaping on Minnesota Roadsides or Landscapes. Picking plants for roadside planting in Minnesota can be a problematic task considering the constraints within Minnesota. This "expert system" allows professional and novice alike to

In developing this "expert system" MnDOT staff did research between 1991 and 1999. Volunteer collaborators and a programming consultant, Michael Max – EnvironMentor Systems made very significant contributions to the program. The initial prototype of the program was first made available in 1997. This original prototype was available on CD-ROM and was limited to only trees and shrubs. In 1999 an expanded version of the CD-ROM was released that included trees, shrubs and plants. The latest version is now available on the web. This is an up to date, easy to follow version that will allow the program to be more widely available.

MnDOT landscape staff obtained in-kind commitments from collaborators (including FHWA) and research funding, in the amount of $37,875, and committed themselves to creation of the most comprehensive plant selection "expert system" of its kind and it was developed to address the needs and problems described below:

 

The project development approach was to enlist experienced and knowledgeable volunteer collaborators, from around the Midwest and Canada, as critical reviewers, who could help MnDOT staff synthesize and validate the research, database and photographic information collected. MnDOT collected, evaluated and synthesized an enormous volume of data sets for the "expert system" 49 fields of information for each of more than 750 trees, shrubs, vine, forbs, grasses, sedges and fern species and over 2600 color photos. When using the "expert system", you can view listings of 159 reference & research publications; 84 professional and academic database reviewers/contributors; and 23 photographers cited for providing the information synthesized into the software system. The design activity or project goals included:


A key feature of the "expert system" is its simple, intuitive and flexible presentation of a complex array of extensive data in an integrated manner that can be tailored to the user. Plant characteristics and site characteristics data include:
MnDOT landscape staff obtained in-kind commitments from collaborators (including FHWA) and research funding, in the amount of $37,875, and committed themselves to creation of the most comprehensive plant selection "expert system" of its kind and it was developed to address the needs and problems described below:

The project development approach was to enlist experienced and knowledgeable volunteer collaborators, from around the Midwest and Canada, as critical reviewers, who could help MnDOT staff synthesize and validate the research, database and photographic information collected. MnDOT collected, evaluated and synthesized an enormous volume of data sets for the "expert system" 49 fields of information for each of more than 750 trees, shrubs, vine, forbs, grasses, sedges and fern species and over 2600 color photos. When using the "expert system", you can view listings of 159 reference & research publications; 84 professional and academic database reviewers/contributors; and 23 photographers cited for providing the information synthesized into the software system.  The design activity or project goals included:

In terms of results and significance, the "expert system" has already begun to influence transportation and general landscaping plant selection, restoration and management in Minnesota. Immediate and long-term benefits result from the greatly increased speed, accuracy and comprehensiveness with which the "expert  system" allows a novice or professional to determine right plant, right place, right functions in landscape design. An initial phase one prototype CD-ROM, specific to only woody plants, was developed (1995 – 1997) and distributed (1,000 CDs) beginning in 1997. In its first year of widespread use (1997) the prototype "expert system" received the Minnesota Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architect’s Honor Award for both Research and Communication.  The multi-agency Minnesota Shade Tree Advisory Committee and the Minnesota Horticultural Society also provided MnDOT with special awards for innovation in developing the "expert system". Sales and distribution of the greatly expanded and fully tested phase two  CD–ROM "expert system" for woody and herbaceous plants began in April of 1999. More than 1,900 of the CD–ROMs have been sold. In it’s 3 year of use (2002), the second version of the "expert system" received the Federal Highway Administration, Environmental Excellence Award for Excellence in Environmental Research. 

A key feature of the "expert system" is its simple, intuitive and flexible presentation of a complex array of extensive data in an integrated manner that can be tailored to the user. Plant characteristics and site characteristics data include:
You answer the queries or bypass those of less concern, with a click of your computer’s mouse, and the system identifies any and all plants that pass your specified criteria (plant characteristics & site conditions). You can print plant lists with your specified selection criteria as well as detailed fact sheets for each plant. You can also print color copies of the photo images and native range maps.

Contributors

Carol Westover (Garden Designer)
Anoka Hennepin Technical College
  Lowell Blom
South Dakota State University
  Dr. John Ball
University of Minnesota
  Dr. Rachel Budelsky
  Anita Cholea, Ph.D.
  Dr. Mary Hockenberry Meyer
  Gary Johnson
  Robert Mugaas
  Brad Pedersen
  Dr. Harold Pellet
  Robert-Jan W. Quene
  Dr. Craig Sheaffer
  Dr. Bert Swanson
  Mike Zins
University of Northern Iowa
  Carole Kern
University of Wisconsin-Madison
  John Harrington
  Amy Sausen
Mortem Arboretum
  Dr. George Ware
Federal Highway Adninistration
  Bonnie Harper-Lore
Iowa Department of Transportation
  Mark Masteller
  Joy Williams
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
  Merideth Cornett
  Robert Dana
  Lois Eberhart
  Dr. Tom Eiber
  April Gansen
  Carroll Henderson
  Grag Johnson
  Jay Rendall
  Paul Rundell
  Peggy Sand
  Welby Smith
Minnesota Department of Transportation
  Jason Alcott
  Roy Allen
  Jed Becher
  Scott Bradley
  Richard Cady
  Todd Carroll
  Dr. Lawrence Foote
  Kistine Gardner
  Ken Graber
  Dan Gullickson
  Paula Gustafson
  Denise Hals
  Angie Hansen
  Robert Harrison
  Leo Holm
  Eileen Jordahl
  Tina Klein
  Gerald Kluthe
  Kay Korsgaard
  Brab Kovach
  Neil Kveberg
  Mike Lehrer
  Susan Maag
  Tom Makousky
  Len Murphy
  Larry Puchalsky
  Sue Ramseth
  Scott Robinson
  Robert Slater
  Jeff Stellrecht
  Dwayne Stenlund
  Patti Stromayer
  Denise Thao
  Paul Voigt
  Liz Walton
  Paul Walvatne
  Craig Wilkins
  Carol Zoff
Ontario Ministry of Transportation
  Nicholas Close
  Dr. Nancy Cain
  Steven Stuger
Wisconsin Department of Transportation
  Gary Birch
  Leif Hubbard
  John Jackson
  Richard Stark
  Paul Werth
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services
  Paul Flynn
USDA / APHIS / PPQ
  Pamela Deerwood
Bailey Nurseries, Inc.
  Don Selinger
  Jim Stolzenburg
Landscape Alternatives
  Roy Robison
ION Exchange
  Marie Urice
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
  Paul Domholt
  Jim Hermann
  Mary Maguire Lerman
Minnesota Stae Horticural Society
  Terri Goodfellow-Heyer
Minnesota Power
  Brian Asmus
   
   Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Plant Selector Program
Photographers
Anne Hanchek
Bailey's Nursery, Inc.
  Linda Huhn
Minnesota Department of Transportation
  Scott Bradley
  Bob Jacobson
  Pat Johnson
  Eileen Jordahl
  David Larson
  Len Murphy
  Larry Puchalski
  Scott Robinson
  Paul Voigt
  Liz Walton
  Paul Walvatne
  Carol Zoff
Minnesota Department of Natural Resource
  Tom Eiber
Minnesota Native Landscapes, L.L.C.
  Paul Jackson
Rice Creek Gardens, Inc.
  Betty Ann Addison
University of Minnesota
  Dr. Susan Galatowitsch
  Dr. Mary Hockenberry-Meyer
  Dr. Craig Sheaffer
  Mike Zins
University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
  Many photos were taken on the Arboretum grounds
University of Wisconsin
  Mike Clayton
  WWW.Wisc.edu/botany/virtual.html
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  Steve Eggers

 

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