Phone Apps can identify plants

How often have we walked around neighbourhoods or gardens and wondered what name a plant has? To have the answer at your fingertips seems like a luxury. The idea that you can hold your smartphone over a plant and activate a phone App to identify a plant, is the stuff of dreams.

One site YouhadmeatGardening reviewed the App choices in 2020. Can’t get more current than that! This site looks at the 9 best plant identification apps:

Free plant identification apps

  1. PlantNet
  2. iNaturalist
  3. PlantSnap

Paid plant identification apps

  1. PictureThis
  2. FlowerChecker
  3. Garden Compass

Other plant identification apps

  1. Agrobase
  2. Plantix
  3. What’s That Flower

When I learnt that gardening friend K was using PictureThis and happily so, it was time for me to try the application. To see what I thought.

Instead of paying an annual subscription of $29.99 I chose the one week free trial (which included submitting my credit card details). The software downloaded on my smartphone within seconds and I was operational outside with great eagerness, within a couple of minutes, only delayed by layering up in warm clothes to protect from the cold still air.

The program was easy to use. Click on ‘new’ and a shape/space appears on your phone. You let your phone hover this shape over the plant and click. Around my garden I went snapping plants I knew and those I didn’t know.

The information provided by PictureThis was in depth; scientific name, common names, growing habit and conditions with comparable photos and much more.  Some plants were identified within milliseconds while others I gave up on, such as the avocado. But then later I noted the identification had been made and stored on my phone.


In one instance my Wild Celery (which I had known as Parcel incorrectly) was identified as Wild Carrot while the other equivalent plants were correctly named – but the photos used for comparison purposes clearly showed me this wasn’t a carrot.

IMG_9911Apium species of marshwort

So the in-built feature which offered a smattering of photos taken by others is particularly useful. There was one of my plants to which three different identities were given when I took three different photos, all of which I believe are wrong.

Of course the identification can only be as good as my photograph, and I suspect the identification would be easier at different times of the year depending on the nature of the plant and its growth and flowering pattern.

The lettuces which I am growing inside my sunny warm front porch, had never had a name.  Now I know they are Romaine lettuces (Lactuca Sativa).

IMG_9910Romaine Lettuce Lactuca sativa

At the end of my happy hunting, I cancelled my free trial.  In part I wanted to determine whether the cancellation does happen because reviews of some Apps complain about the inability to cancel – not this App but plant identification Apps in general: within 15 minutes the process for unsubscribing had been emailed to me and it all worked well. Unfortunately, I have too many current commitments and won’t need/unlikely to use the App in the foreseeable future.

Please let me know if you trial another App and whether the process is fun and useful. I believe any such Apps will be an indispensable tool for someone about to establish a garden (could be good for your new house M?), so that when wandering through a plant nursery or private garden trying to determine which plants might be used, a record with names can be kept.

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