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Production of County-wide Plant Identification Guide, Harris County Flood Control District

Following completion of the Undesirable Plant Identification Guide for Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) in the spring of 2010, HCFCD managers identified the need for a comprehensive vegetation identification guide for plants commonly occurring in Harris County to aid HCFCD field crews in identification of both undesirable and beneficial vegetation through photographs and detailed descriptions. The information in this guide will also be used in developing planting plans for HCFCD projects, and making recommendations to others, as needed. The comprehensive guide includes approximately 363 species of plants, including herbaceous, shrub, tree, and vine species.

Both Crouch Environmental Services and our communications branch, Crouch Communications, contributed to success of this project. Crouch Environmental approached this project by building a master database of plants to be included in the guide using Microsoft Excel. The master database includes, but is not limited to: common and scientific name, physical description (size, leaves, flower, fruit, bark), USDA Wetland Indicator Status per the 2013 National Wetland Plant List, status as a native or undesirable plant species, growth habit, habitat associations, habitat preference, relevant control methods, and the desirability of each species in certain areas of HCFCD facilities.

From the master database two plant identification guides were created: The Reforestation Guide and the Wetland Guide. Crouch Communications graphically laid out the two guides and systematically incorporated photographs and information gathered during the compilation of the database. Crouch Communications provided creative ideas for creating an index, cover page, and guide introduction page. Crouch Communications also provided graphics support by creating unique icons for the purpose of both plant management and plant identification and created a picture glossary that will aid users in identifying plant characteristics in the field.

Crouch Communications streamlined both the data collection and book design process by utilizing Microsoft Excel form fields and Adobe InDesign data merge features. This approach reduced design and review time by standardizing plant descriptions and automating the book design process.

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