Botanical/poetic ways to classify/tag four-leaf clovers
May 15, 2015 10:47 PM   Subscribe

I have a tumblr where I post pictures of four-leaf and other interesting clover that I find. I'm trying to come up with a (better) system for tagging the clover based on various features that make them unique including number of leaves, leaf configuration, leaf markings, leaf shape, symmetry and more. I need suggestions for tags to us as a flexible and comprehensive way to classify any interesting clover I find. Both botanical/scientific as well as more abstractly descriptive suggestions are welcome. Examples inside.

I have some examples of the various qualities I have in mind already or need to find the right terminology for but I'm also interesting in suggestions of other ways to classify and describe clover and more general tumblr tags that might be appropriate (for discoverability).

Leaf Marks. White or crimson markings on the leaves. There is a lot of variation in the shape, spread and how prominent/faded these markings are. I found this chart of clover leaf mark alleles but there are edge cases that don't fit neatly into it. Examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Leaf Shape: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Leaf Configuration (? not sure what to call it) I think Palmate and Pinnate work but I'm not sure how to subdivide some of the weirder pinnate ones. Examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Partial leaves. What counts as a leaf? How to classify a leaf that is only partially formed? What about a leaf with an extra growth?
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Other characteristics I'm interested in describing include: leaf damage, disease, flower color, symmetry, leaf edges.

How would you describe and classify the differences between all of the examples presented here? What is the best way to structure my classification system so that it is both precise and flexible? Thanks!
posted by metaphorever to Science & Nature (1 answer total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm coming at this from a slightly different perspective because I photograph and collect mushrooms/fungi, as opposed to clover, but here are some thoughts:

- Who is your audience? If your audience is less scientifically minded than artistically minded (and yes, I realize it does not have to be either/or!), then sticking to basic and familiar descriptive tags like the ones you're already using here - "extra leaf growth", "leaf damage", "partially formed leaf", "oblong leaves", "asymmetry" - may make this process easier.

- For things that don't fit "neatly" into a category, could you tag it as, say, "[allele type] variation" or "[pinnate] variation"? It means that you'd be lumping all of your outliers into groups based on what characteristic makes them an outlier (color, leaf shape, leaf edge, etc), but I personally like the idea of clicking a tag that is just for looking at all of the strange or unusual variations of a particular thing. To me, tags are for grouping things together. If you break the group down into too many smaller groups, it may make some of the clovers more difficult to discover.

- To expand on my last point, it may be better to keep all variations of red leaves/flowers under a tag for "red", as opposed to "burgundy", "magenta", "mahogany", "ruby", "rose". I think this level of micro-description is useful in a field guide or textbook, but for Tumblr it may be overwrought. Color, as an example on its own, is also at risk of becoming too subjective for online viewers because the interpretation and identification of color can be compromised depending on a viewer's screen/monitor display. That's why a tag for all examples that fall roughly under the category of "red" is more useful than "burgundy" versus "rose". You could separate pink from red, but I wouldn't go much further than that.

This may not be what you're looking for. However, as someone who would enjoy browing Tumblr photographs of clovers or mushrooms based on descriptive qualities, this is what I'd personally be looking for in tags. For a botanist, maybe not so much. YMMV.
posted by nightrecordings at 9:47 AM on May 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

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