German Flower of the Year 2023: The Small Self-Heal

Flower of the Year
The Loki Schmidt Foundation has chosen the Small Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris) as the Flower of the Year 2023 to draw attention to the gradual loss of numerous plant and animal species. The Small Self-Heal grows between 5 and 25 cm tall and delights observers with its small, violet flowers. Despite its delicate appearance, it thrives in frequently mowed lawns and tolerates grazing and trampling by livestock. Despite its robustness, this once common wildflower shares the fate of many other species found in meadows, pastures, and roadsides: its populations are steadily declining.

Allowing More Wilderness

The gradual loss of species is particularly evident in the case of the once common Small Self-Heal. It can thrive in many places, as long as they are not too nutrient-rich. When meadows, pastures, and paths are fertilized or surrounding landscapes are over-fertilized, it significantly impacts the composition of plant communities: a few fast-growing plant species that grow tall and dense tend to overgrow the diverse, formerly lean habitats. Currently, the Small Self-Heal is present in all federal states and is not at risk everywhere. However, in some regions of Germany, a decline in populations is noticeable, such as in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Brandenburg, Hesse, Baden-Württemberg, and Bavaria.

A New Badge for You!

If you find and identify a Small Self-Heal, you will be rewarded with a new badge for your profile: the Flower of the Year 2023.

This article was featured in the Flora-Incognita app as a story in the summer of 2023. The app provides intriguing information about plants, ecology, species identification, as well as tips and tricks for plant identification. Why not take a look?


Flora Incognita vs. Flora Capture

Our project „Flora Incognita“ for many ( and more ) people represents the almost automatic species identification of wild plants. We are grateful for the positive feedback, but of course there are always some uncertainties. For example, the areas of use of the two apps: Flora Incognita and Flora Capture

Flora Incognita – Automatically identify species

With Flora Incognita, you can automatically identify a plant in just a few moments. Depending on the type and quality of your observation, the app needs 1-3 images. You can confirm that the species is indeed identified or select another one from a list of suggestions. An internet connection is required for a determination: Either via mobile data on the go or later at home, where you can also select your photos from the gallery.


Mäder, P., Boho, D., Rzanny, M., Seeland, M., Wittich, H. C., Deggelmann, A., & Wäldchen, J. (2021). The flora incognita app–interactive plant species identification. Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

Flora Capture – Document plants and contribute to the project

The aim of this app is to collect plant images from given perspectives.  These provide, among other things, the data basis of the identification function of the Flora Incognita App. More so: it offers you the opportunity to collect plants without extracting them from nature.

Its distinctive feature is that a capture observation is taken from one and the same individual. This creates a true understanding of the variety in size, shape and color of plant parts in different degrees of flowering and maturity. This data ensures that Flora Incognita can reliably identify even difficult species.

The combination of flowers and leaf images in our database enables a species-specific identification of plants even when an identification should not be possible. Here you see different types of buttercup. An identification solemnly based on the flower would hardly be possible:

So the next time you are happy that in many cases even plants without flowers are recognized correctly, this is mainly possible due to the Flora Capture observations that we have already collected.

Maybe you could make an active contribution to our project from time to time? Each Flora Capture observation is evaluated and, if possible, identified by a team of experts. This manual process may be fast if the key features are clearly visible and the species is one of the current species list (~4800 species). If not, it will take a little longer and sometimes be impossible: For species hybrids, ornamental plants or photographs taken far away from the Central European flora. Flora Capture images can be taken without an internet connection and then uploaded to our server via WLAN at home.


Boho, D., Rzanny, M., Wäldchen, J., Nitsche, F., Deggelmann, A., Wittich, H. C., … & Mäder, P. (2020). Flora Capture: a citizen science application for collecting structured plant observations. BMC bioinformatics, 21(1), 1-11.