With around 17,000 species of native flora in the US, plus tens of thousands of additional species of other plants (not to mention algae and mosses), even the most expert botanist would fail to recognize every plant they came across.
It’s frustrating, though, when you discover a beautiful wildflower or unusual looking shrub, and you struggle to discern its genus.
Instead of wasting time trawling through websites or asking your gardener friends, why not simply take a snap and have an app do the work for you?
Although not completely foolproof, these thirteen apps and online tools are some of the best ways to quickly and easily identify plants from pictures.
1. Plant Snap
Plant Snap is a relatively new plant identification app that benefits from machine learning to constantly improve the results of its identification. It now claims to be able to recognize 90% of plant species, and hopes to reach 100% in the near future. The more people that regularly use it, the faster it will improve.
Get it here.
This crowdsourced plant recognition tool allows users to upload a photo of any plant they find, while the team from the MyGarden.org community try to correctly recognize it. Easy to use and completely free of charge, Plantifier even lets you save the photos you take in your personal collection for later reference!
Probably one of the best apps of this type, LeafSnap has been developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution.
This free mobile app uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves, and the image bank contains beautiful pictures of leaves, flowers, fruits, petioles, seeds and bark.
4. LikeThat Garden
The free LikeThat Garden application uses patented visual search technology to identify flowers from your image. Once you upload your photo, you will instantly be able to retrieve information on the plant in question, as well as search through similar-looking flowers for inspiration and ideas.
5. Garden Compass Plant / Disease Identifier
Upload a photo of a plant to this mobile app and a team of highly-regarded plant experts from around the world will help you identify exactly what you’re looking at. They will even tell you how to grow and care for it!
What’s more, these garden advisors will identify bugs that you snap eating your plants, or signs of disease that are affecting the health of your garden flora, and provide you with information on how to eliminate the problem.
GardenTags is described as ‘a community of gardeners from budding novices to expert botanists and everyone in between’!
Along with identifying unknown flowers with help from the community, this free app gives you access to planting inspiration and advice, the community-generated plant encyclopedia and a plant care task list. You can even keep a photographic record of your plant collection and garden in one place or upload photos of your gardening successes to serve as inspiration for others!
This plant identification service, powered by a team of botanists, has already identified over 138,000 plants uploaded by users – a number that is growing by the day. Given the qualifications of the team behind this, it’s one of the most accurate apps out there.
Simply take a picture of the plant you’re struggling to identify and send it, via the app, to the experts (a small charge applies per identification). Approximately half of all queries are answered within the hour so you won’t have to wait too long to find out what you’re looking at!
8. My Garden Answers
My Garden Answers is the number one downloaded gardening app of all time, and now has over half a million users.
It offers instant plant identification – just point and click. You can also discover if the plant in question has a pest or disease problem or ask gardening experts for advice and recommendations. The app also allows you to easily and conveniently access all of your previous questions and answers.
Instant identification of plants is free, but a fee applies when you ‘Ask the Expert’.
9. Google Image Search / Google Goggles
Google offers a couple of options for those who want to identify images (and not just flowers) for free.
Carry out a Google image search by uploading the image of the plant and including a few key words. The search engine should return visually similar images which can help in your quest for identification.
Another option is the Google Goggles app which works in a similar manner.
GrowIt is a free app that allows gardeners from around the world to connect with one another. Along with asking your fellow growers to help you identify unusual plants, you can share your own plant photos, get plant care information, create shopping wish-lists and use your plant knowledge to help others.
Identify plants and flowers while on the go – without an internet connection! Once you download the free Flower Identification Tool, you can begin identifying over 700 species. The identification process allows you to specify the height, color, leaf shape and more of a plant, and contains detailed photos for comparison.
Animal lovers can even use the app to identify birds, fish and butterflies based on pictures, and filtered by age, gender or season.
iPflanzen, together with iForest or iGarten, allows you to accurately identify and learn about a huge array of plants, trees and shrubs from the garden, park, forest or home.
The app requires you to enter criteria such as leaf shape, color etc. in order to figure out what you’re looking at and results are accompanied by an image, common and scientific name and further information.
[email protected] is an image sharing and retrieval app for the identification of plants, with different apps available for your specific area (including Western Europe, Indian Ocean, South America and North Africa).
The app features more than 6,400 separate plant entries in its database, and checks your image against hundreds of thousands of individual pictures of leaves, flowers, and fruits.