Phlora for iOS (Developer Site)



Phlora is an app for visualizing and exploring phylogenetic trees and images. Phylogenetic trees represent the evolutionary relationships of species in parts of the tree of life. Phlora lets you navigate around these trees, while simultaneously examining various kinds of images that can be attached to individual species. Phlora is available on the Apple App Store.


The app comes populated with examples of several phylogenetic trees for different groups of plants, including the cacti, the legume family, the large and diverse genus, Viburnum, and all species in the flora of Britain. Several trees include images to illustrate the utility of the app, including leaf images of Viburnum, whole plant photos of cacti, and high resolution photos of herbarium specimens of the legume species of Arizona. Additional photographs can be downloaded from the app's remote database. In addition, users can add their own images from their photo library, Files app, or iCloud, and they can set up their own phylogenetic trees and image collections on other platforms to download to Phlora.


Although some background in phylogenetic biology will be helpful for users interested in putting their own phylogenetic trees into Phlora, the samples included and the extensive help guide should make this feasible for anyone interested in doing so. Phlora offers an opportunity for anyone with photographs of the world's biota to organize their information in an evolutionary framework, in keeping with the way biologists now organize their understanding of biodiversity around the tree of life.




* Trees with up to several thousand species can be seamlessly navigated.

* Very high resolution images can be associated with each species and zoomed in to achieve best results

* External tree files and image collections organized by the user can be downloaded to the user's device and accessed from the app

* A remote database having complete collections of images for a few of these trees can be used to explore the potential of the app for visualization

* A search function allows rapid navigation to specific places in a large phylogenetic tree

* Classification schemes for groups of species can be visualized, based on phylogenetic definitions.

* Specialized memory management allows gigabytes of high resolution image data to be associated with each tree (though there are limits to what can be opened to maximum resolution on screen on very old iOS devices with limited RAM).


Sample tree file.To see an example of a properly formatted tree file that you can use as a model for adding your own trees, click here . This is the Viburnum example distributed with the app. Note that only the 'tree' line (the first line of the file) is required. The 'mrca' and 'reference' lines are optional. See the 'Help' section of the app for more information. If you are having trouble getting Phlora to read your tree file, please contact me and include a copy of the tree file and I will try to help.

Partial support for the development of this app was provided by a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation. Questions or comments can be addressed to Mike Sanderson (


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