Now that we’re all spending more time at home, it can’t hurt to know what’s blooming. And finding the answer is easier than ever with one the many plant identification apps available. But which ones work best and provide the fastest, most reliable data? To find out, I decided to do a side-by-side comparison.
To begin, I chose six popular plant apps and installed them on my phone. Then I uploaded a photo of Daisy fleabane (pictured below). Within minutes, I discovered that, depending on the database, processing time varied greatly. Further, some apps requested more access than I felt comfortable giving. That being said, they all offered a fun way to expand my knowledge of the plants growing in my community.
My results are below.
Part of a research and educational initiative on plant biodiversity, PlantNet is one of the most popular plant identification apps available. Its database is organized into world flora, useful plants, weeds, invasive plants and plants native to specific continents or countries.
PlantNet is a citizen science project that depends on user photos and donations to help identify plants. My results were immediate. Free
PlantNet results were comprehensive and immediate
PlantSnap is an app by Earth.com that identifies flowers, plants and trees. Once you upload your photo, a team of experts identifies the plant for you and sends you its name within 24 hours. They also provide tips on plant care and maintenance.
You’ll need to register to use PlantSnap and, like all the apps, it requires access to your camera. You can also upload your own photos and share them with PlantSnappers worldwide. Free
I had a result in less than 5 seconds. Their team must be working overtime.
PlantSnap results were immediate
In contrast to other plant apps, Plantifier relies on its users, not experts, to identify plants and flowers. After you upload your photo, other users on the app help you figure it out. The app also includes tips for garden care and can track the growth of your flowers and plants. Free
My photo joined lots of other user photos waiting to be identified. When I clicked on my picture, I got the screen below. Still waiting for my answer.
Still waiting for my answer from Plantifier
PictureThis uses computer algorithms to identify user photos of plants and flowers. The database features over 10,000 species and includes advice columns and plant care guides. To date, over 27,000,000 pics of plants have been identified by their AI technology. Free 7 day trial then $29.99/year for access to all features.
My results were immediate. However, to use this app, I had to agree to the 7-day trial.
PictureThis results are immediate, but you pay for them
What’s That Flower
This plant identification app is different from the others. Instead of starting with photos, What’s That Flower starts with a questionnaire. Users input color, height, number of petals, etc. and the app gives you suggestions for what the flower might be. The database consists of over 600 different types of flowers. Free
I selected the color purple for my daisy fleabane and was directed to enter info on its petals.
Up popped another screen that asked me to scroll through 19 options.
Unfortunately, daisy fleabane was not one of them. A couple of days later, I received the photo below. No name or info. And for some reason, I can’t return to the home screen.
Created by three friends with PhDs in botany, FlowerChecker has been working with botany and horticultural experts for the past five years to help ID plants. The app is not computer-based, but instead works as a service. You snap a photo of the plant in question and upload it. Real people identify it within 24 hours. $0.99 to install
However, in order to get started, you must first log in with Google. This allows FlowerChecker (both app and website) to share information about you. I decided not to continue.
OK, this isn’t about flowers, but it’s one of the most popular apps of its kind. Developed by Columbia University, the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution, Leafsnap is a series of electronic field guides that help identify tree species from photographs using flowers, fruits, seeds and bark. The app is capable of identifying all types of trees found in the Northeastern US and Canada.
Leafsnap even has a UK version that includes trees from across the United Kingdom with information and imagery provided by the Natural History Museum in London. Free
Want to know more? To learn about another powerful plant identification tool, check out my post on how to identify trees with a dichotomous key.