Step 1 (added in the 2nd edition)
Start with the ⓵ on the sticker with quotes. There are two quotes, the first one has something to do with the age of trees, the second one tells us to research some stuff. There are some bold letters as well. After you’ve solved all this you should move to the ⓶, pointing towards the “SPECIAL SITUATIONS….”. But, to do the first part (which has something to do with the age of some tree), we need to figure out which tree we’re talking about. We’re going to find a tree, do something with its age, research some stuff with all that information and afterwards move to the special situations statement. Tackle the Card in this order, and you’ll figure it out!
Start with the letters on the back side of the card. Use the alphabet to convert the numbers to letters. A-1, B-2, C-3, … You should find ‘mywildflowerscomindentifyasp’. Don’t forget the symbols though. The dots are quite straightforward, but the line is a bit more difficult. With an out-of-the-box mindset you should be able to read the ‘slash’ symbol, as is common in URL’s. Combining all that, we find the link www.mywildflowers.com/identify.asp.
If you try to translate the text above the flowers at the front, you will find that it is Latin and means ‘a list with the names of flowers’. The ‘1’ is a superscript for the word ‘names’. Therefore, you should take the first letter of the Latin names of the flowers – which you will find soon.
Move to the flower grid on the front of the card and look up the different flowers that you see. Some are a bit more difficult to find than others, especially the green upright one (top row, 2nd from the left) and the one with the white flowers (right bottom). For those you really need to use the ‘Cluster Type’ and ‘Leaf Shape’ categories, which can be quite difficult. It is not a shame if you weren’t able to find some of these, this card is the hardest one for a reason. The good answers are the following flowers (in order of appearance): Great Blanket Flower, Philadelphia Fleabane, Yellow Pond Lily, Skunk Cabbage, Orange Hawkweed, Bitter Dock, Basil Balm, Wild Ginger, Spiderwort, Cut Leaf Toothwort and Yucca. Now for the nominibus1. Take the first letter of the Latin names of all these flowers. Respectively, you should end up with G E N S H R M A T D Y. Putting these in the right order, as they appear on the card, you find the text ‘GENSHERMANSTARTATNAMEDAY’.
General Sherman (Gen. Sherman) is the biggest tree of the world, measured by volume. It was named in 1879 after soldier William T. Sherman who served in the American Civil War. The tree is located in California. Previously we found the text ‘GEN SHERMAN START AT NAMEDAY’. Therefore one of the previous facts is truly important, the year the tree General Sherman received its name (its nameday). That year is 1879. The text ‘start at’ indicates that we should count something. This has a direct link with all the trees on the borders of the card with different ages. The quote from Hint #1 told us that you can evaluate the age of a tree by counting the rings […] formed by the expanding central trunk. That’s exactly what you should do, count the number of annual rings for every tree, and add that to the starting year of 1879. This should give you the following years, starting at the left bottom and moving clockwise: 1900, 1889, 1898, 1889, 1893, 1903, 1885, 1896, 1887 and 1892. Now this is a lot of work of course, so to go on with the puzzle you would only have had to calculate one or two of these years (depending on your research skills).
Matching the numbers to the years should give you 1900-09281, 1889-09257 and so on. The bold letters, from the quotes in Hint #1, combined are “n a s a”. Researching each of these one by one – especially adding the term “nasa” to your search – should lead you to the common link, even after just two Google searches. In every year a solar eclipse has occurred. NASA catalogues all these, and keeps a database online (https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEcat5/SE1801-1900.html). The catalog number of that solar eclipse is the number written on the trees. This is true for every one of the trees, so all of them should lead you to a solar eclipse! NASA keeps a similar database for Lunar Eclipses but over there the years/catalog numbers don’t add up, so make sure you found the right database. That pretty much concludes all the substeps of ⓵ the quotes sticker from Hint #1 gave us. Now on for the ⓶.
Move to the left bottom corner of the back side of the card. If you read the text in the manner in which trees grow, from the middle outward, you can read ‘special situations require special communication’. Remember the solar eclipse we found. What special communication does that situation require? We are looking for a method of communication that does not require light and works just fine in the dark. If it hasn’t clicked yet, look around the Card which symbols/grids the code (or communication, if you like) could consist of. The answer is that we are looking for braille.
You should see the flower grid on the front as a 4-letter braille grid. Flowers with a dark leaf are a version of the black dot. If you work your way through the flowers in this manner, you should find the braille symbols for the letters T, R, E and S.
The brace can also be found on the back of the card around the medal with ‘2X’ written on it. Connect the ‘2X’ medal with the letter E (or the 3×2 Braille grid on the front of the Card). It indicates that you should duplicate the braille letter with the brace around it. You should duplicate the letter ‘E’. Therefore, the final solution of this card is ‘TREES’.