How good are free Android and Apple Apps that identify plants from photos?
I’ve tested four free apps available in the UK for identifying plants. I pulled out four good photos – 3 of flowers and 1 of leaves – and found out how they fared in identifying them accurately.
Best: PlantSnap *****
You can download this app for either iPhone or Android. It correctly identified all four of my photos (see below) so I give it a top five star rating!
Second: Flora Incognita ***
A phone app for android. It only seems to accept photos taken there and then, not gallery photos taken previously. You can get around this if you have two devices by taking a picture of the screen. It identified photo a) and b) correctly, but it came up with a Lychnis species for photo c), even after being given photos of the leaves. It did however, correctly identified photo d). Rating three stars.
Third: PlantNet **
Phone App for android or IOS. On photo a). it came up with Cornus florida and Helleborus niger first, but then Houttuynia cordata. The last of these is a close relative of Anemopsis californica so that at least can be helpful in identification. On photo b) it correctly identified Mirabilis jalapa. On photo c) it came up with Crocosmia, Hyacinthus and Hibiscus, none of which were helpful. But it correctly identified the leaf in photo d). Rating two stars.
Fourth: Garden Answers *
For iPhones and iPads. With photo a) it came up with a range of quite unrelated flowers, including roses, violas and aquilegias. For photo b) it correctly identified Mirabilis jalapa. For photo c) it came up with a stream of things with Crocosmia at the top but including Nerine bowdenii (a relative of N.sarniensis) near the bottom. It didn’t find photo d). Perhaps one of the problems is that it seems to be focused on plants you can buy, not weeds or wild plants. Rating *
My test photos
a). Flower of Apache Beads – Anemopsis californica
b). Flower of Marvel of Peru – Mirabilis jalapa
c). Flower of Guernsey Lily – Nerine sarniensis
d). Leaves of Paper Mulberry – Broussonetia papyrifera
I am aware that there are other services for plant identification available. See for example this page from The Plant Guide which identifies 11 apps. Here’s my conclusions on some of these:
This is a human-based service which costs about 1 US $.
This works for plants, animals and birds etc. but is rather limited on species numbers. It asks questions about colour, structure etc and presents you with alternatives (with pictures).
Apparently this no longer exists but you can search images with Google. If you put in a flower it comes up with broadly similar things, but is rather generic.
LikeThatGarden Flower search app for android phones. Not available from Google Play Store.
Leafsnap An IPhone App aimed at identifying trees from the leaves in the UK and USA. Not currently available in the UK
iPflanzen. For IOS devices. Relies on inputting data for identification, not based on photos. Not available in UK App Store.
Garden Compass Plant/disease identification. Not really appropriate for identification.