The 9 Best Plant Identification Apps

by Jack Grover
person scanning plant with smartphone
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In the age of technology, the realm of horticulture has also stepped up its game. Whether you’re a seasoned botanist or a green-thumbed novice, the world of plant identification apps offers tools that can turn you into an instant plant expert.

These apps are a perfect companion for those who love to explore the great outdoors or simply want to know what’s growing in their backyard.

Here, we delve into the best plant identification apps available today to help you transform your smartphone into a mobile botany textbook:

PlantNet

Pricing: Free

Devices: Android and iOS.

Languages: 27 languages available.

PlantNet

Topping our list is the PlantNet app (Pl@ntNet) — an intuitive interface that makes plant identification as simple as snapping a picture.

This free application (with no card details required!) is an innovative tool that has revolutionized the world of plant identification. It operates as a “citizen science project on biodiversity,” making it more than just an app — it’s a communal effort to understand and appreciate the world’s flora.

What sets PlantNet apart is its unique organizational structure. It groups over a million images into distinct “projects”:

  • geographical projects covering plants from all corners of the globe,
  • thematic projects for ornamental and cultivated plants,
  • micro-projects focusing on specific flora in localized areas.

Choosing the correct “project” is crucial for accurate identification. For instance, a common houseplant might not be recognized under the geographical category but would be immediately identified under useful plants.

The way this app works is simple yet ingenious. It can identify any plant whose image has been previously shared by a user and added to its database of over 20,000 species — a number that continues to grow with each new identification.

However, bear in mind that, like all plant identification apps, the angle and quality of your photo matter significantly. To aid users in capturing the perfect image, PlantNet provides a handy tutorial on its website.

One of PlantNet’s standout features is its extensive directory that allows you to browse plants through family, genus, or species. Moreover, you can share your photos for verification by other users — an element that adds another layer of accuracy and reliability to this app.

PlantNet is available for download on both iOS and Android devices. Registration is necessary to fully access all features and share your contributions, but rest assured no credit card information is needed.

Despite featuring a small ad bar at the bottom of the screen post-capture, it doesn’t intrude upon your experience—making PlantNet an efficient, community-oriented tool for every plant lover out there.

iNaturalist

Pricing: Free

Devices: Android and iOS.

Languages: 56 languages available.

iNaturalist

Next up is iNaturalist — the brainchild of the California Academy of Science and the National Geographic Society. It provides a platform for plant lovers, gardeners, and nature enthusiasts to share their observations with a global network.

The functionality of this app lies in its simplicity. Users record their sightings or encounters into the database, where identification is confirmed by other users as well as image recognition technology. 

After identifying your plant, iNaturalist allows you to share your findings with a community of over 400,000 scientists and naturalists who can provide further insights.

The website offers a comprehensive list of FAQs and tutorials, plus a Help function on the mobile app for any troubleshooting needs.

But iNaturalist isn’t limited to plants — it hosts an extensive database that includes insects, animals, butterflies, and more. You can explore local sightings and even check out ongoing nature projects at institutions near you!

Registration is required via Google, Facebook, or email, but no credit card information is needed. For younger nature enthusiasts or families, iNaturalist offers an app called Seek that doesn’t require registration — we’ll explore it in great detail later in the article.

iNaturalist maintains an ad-free experience — so nothing distracts you from your quest to explore and understand the natural world around you.

PlantSnap

Pricing: Free

Devices: Android and iOS.

Languages: 37 languages available.

PlantSnap

PlantSnap aims to serve as a “digital interface” between people and nature.

With an extensive database of over 500,000 species of cacti, flowers, ornamental plants, succulents, and mushrooms, complemented by over 150 million images, PlantSnap stands out as one of the most comprehensive plant identification apps on the market.

Suitable even for those not entirely comfortable with technology, PlantSnap offers helpful tutorials that guide you on how to maximize the app’s utility and capture the perfect plant photo. 

The app operates using artificial intelligence technology to identify plants — making it your very own botanist at your fingertips.

Using PlantSnap is a breeze. It relies on a picture of a leaf or part of a plant. Correct photo placement allows the app’s recognition ability to work effectively, leading to impressively accurate results. The software lets you crop your photo and, once saved, identifies the plant within seconds.

Following identification, you have the option to confirm its accuracy and save it to the database. If the plant is not already in the database or isn’t correctly identified, you can add it — thus contributing to the app’s continuous “learning.”

Moreover, PlantSnap provides detailed information about each plant — covering aspects like genus, origin, size at maturity, flowers, and fruit.

Although there’s an ad-supported basic version that allows ten identifications per day (after which only the gallery can be explored), users are frequently promoted to switch to the premium version, which reduces ads. Ads on the basic version are frequent and could last up to 30 seconds — something to consider before deciding between free or premium access.

PictureThis

Pricing: 7-day free trial, then subscription.

Devices: Android and iOS.

Languages: 12 languages available.

PictureThis

Aptly describing itself as “a botanist in your pocket,” PictureThis combines the power of artificial intelligence and expert advice to create an incredibly accurate plant identification tool.

Simply snap a photo and let the AI do its magic — the AI technology used by PictureThis has identified over 27 million plants through user-submitted photos, and it claims a whopping 98% accuracy rate.

But the app doesn’t stop at mere identification — it also equips users with essential plant care tips covering watering, pest control, and more.

With its own social network designed for plant enthusiasts, PictureThis becomes more than just an app — it’s a thriving community.

The usage of this plant identifier is straightforward. Post the 7-day free trial that lets you test its advanced features before subscribing, users are automatically enrolled in a one-year subscription.

Despite its subscription model, its extensive features make it a worthy investment for avid gardeners and plant parents.

LeafSnap

Pricing: Free

Devices: Android and iOS.

Languages: English.

LeafSnap

LeafSnap, a creation of researchers from Columbia University and the Smithsonian Institute, is more than just an app — it’s your personal botanist specializing in tree identification.

Not limited to common houseplants, LeafSnap excels in identifying a wide range of tree species based on images of their individual parts.

Using LeafSnap is as simple as taking a photo of the tree part you’re interested in identifying, then selecting what portion of the tree appears in your image. The app analyzes your picture and presents several results based on matches within its extensive database — making it an incredibly accurate tool even for distinguishing closely related species.

But there’s more to LeafSnap than just identification. It also features a plant journal that lets you monitor and keep track of all the plants in your backyard or garden. You can set alerts for watering schedules and treatments, ensuring your green friends receive optimal care while you stay organized and informed about your plants’ needs.

iPlant

Pricing: Free

Devices: iOS.

Languages: 20 languages available.

iPlant

iPlant, available exclusively for iOS users, is celebrated for its simplicity and straightforward functionality. It dispenses with unnecessary frills and focuses solely on what matters most — swift and accurate plant identification.

What sets iPlant apart is its impressive accuracy. Snap a photo of a plant, and although it might take a moment, the app will identify it for you.

As a bonus, it provides Wikipedia links for each identified plant, offering users an opportunity to delve deeper into their botanical discoveries.

Despite its slower pace in uploading photos, iPlant’s uncomplicated interface is worth the wait. Its primary aim is to provide high-quality results rather than quick, subpar identifications and offers cultivation tips and warnings about harmful plants.

Plus, this app has an offline mode that lets you access its wealth of information without internet connectivity — an absolute boon for adventurers exploring remote areas.

One minor drawback to note is the presence of a few typos within the app — an area that could use some refinement.

Garden Answers

Pricing: Free

Devices: Android and iOS.

Languages: English, Japanese.

Garden Answers

Garden Answers is more than just a plant identification app — it’s a thriving community focused on supporting your gardening journey.

What truly sets Garden Answers apart is its impressive community features. You can ask experts about anything garden-related, from identifying over 20,000 plants to addressing issues with diseases and pests that might be troubling your plants.

The app also enables you to discover exciting plants in your vicinity — a boon for plant enthusiasts always on the hunt for new specimens.

While the interface might seem slightly dated compared to modern standards, it doesn’t compromise the app’s functionality or usability. Ads are minimal and non-intrusive, and Garden Answers provides essential information about each plant without overwhelming you with excessive detail.

The setup might take a bit longer than an instant, but the wealth of knowledge and connections you gain from this vibrant community makes it worth the wait.

Plantifier

Pricing: Free

Devices: Android and iOS.

Languages: English.

Plantifier

Free and user-friendly, Plantifier employs the knowledge of a vast community of gardeners and plant enthusiasts for its identifications.

Affiliated with mygarden.org, this app offers you the unique opportunity to connect directly with experts and like-minded green thumbs around the world.

The process is simple — you submit a picture of your mysterious plant, and fellow users come to your rescue by helping identify it. While this, it fosters a sense of camaraderie and mutual learning among plant lovers worldwide.

While this crowd-sourced approach might not yield immediate answers, it offers something unique — a sense of camaraderie among plant lovers worldwide.

Seek

Pricing: Free

Devices: Android and iOS.

Languages: 29 languages available.

Seek

Last but not least — Seek, developed by the creators of iNaturalist in partnership with WWF (World Wildlife Fund), is an exciting app that brings a touch of gamification to nature exploration.

Not only does it help you identify a broad array of plants, but Seek also extends its identification prowess to bugs and various other insects — making it an immersive educational tool for both children and adults.

Related: The Good, the Bugs, and the Bountiful: A Guide to Beneficial Insects in Your Garden

What sets Seek apart are its engaging features. As you successfully identify different species, you earn badges and achievements — adding a competitive edge to your nature explorations. It’s akin to playing a real-world version of Pokemon Go, except you’re discovering new species instead of fictional creatures!

However, as fun and educational as Seek is, there are a few things worth noting. The app doesn’t provide plant care information, so while it’s great for identification, it isn’t designed to guide you in nurturing your green friends.

Additionally, for accurate identification, your photos need to be quite clear — so take an extra moment to ensure you’ve got a good shot.

Takeaway

These nine apps will change how you interact with nature — from apps that encourage citizen science to ones that act as your personal botanist — enhancing your understanding and enjoyment of the world around you.

Whether you’re an avid gardener, a hiking enthusiast, or simply someone curious about the flora around you, there’s an app on this list for you. Ditch those bulky field guides — with these apps in hand, identifying plants is as easy as point-and-shoot!

Remember: Most of these apps require clear photos for accurate identification, so take a moment to capture your green friend from the right angle and in good lighting. And while some offer free usage with limited features, others might require subscriptions for full access.

Choose the one that best suits your needs — and happy plant hunting!

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