New Image Recognition App Identifies Plants

Aspiring botanists, you’re in luck - there are now several plant identification apps available for all smartphones. These apps function similarly to the music identification app Shazam, with which users can determine the title of a recorded song they’ve just heard.

The first of its kind is PlantNet, an app that analyzes plant pictures and matches them to the correct global region. Each photo can be categorized based on the part of the plant that’s visible in the photo, including flower, stem, leaf, and whole plant and then searched within the app’s data collection. The information is quite widespread, though Australian greens haven’t yet made the list.

Another cool app is ForestXplorer. Instead of identifying plants immediately, it offers a match based on the user’s answer to questions about the plant’s characteristics. While the app is interesting, it was created by the UK Forestry Commission, meaning only plants that are native to that region can be identified.

The third and arguably best app is Flowerchecker+, which requests suggestions from professional botanists around the world in real time. The time it takes to get an answer can range from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the plant’s popularity. Flowerchecker+ does have one drawback, however: it offers only three identifications free of charge before you’re required to make payments. Nevertheless, the Czech Republic students that created the app clearly knew they had a fresh idea on their hands.

These apps are a goldmine for horticulturalists, foragers, and plant-lovers alike. If you fall into one or more of those categories, try them out. You’re bound to learn something new.

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