- Plant identifier apps are plentiful on iPhone and Android.
- Many apps, like LeafSnap and PlantSnap, have premium tiers, but iPlant and PlantNet are completely free options.
- Here are seven of the best plant identification apps for your smartphone.
What’s that plant in the backyard? Or on the hiking trail you’re traversing? In the past, you’d have to browse a field book to have any hope of identifying it, but these days all you need is a plant identifier app. Here are seven of the best apps for figuring out what plant you’re looking at without becoming an expert botanist.
LeafSnap, available for both iPhone and Android, comes with a free three-day trial, but you need to be willing to subscribe for $4.99 per month (or $25.99 annually) to make use of this app. It includes a thorough and expansive library of plants which you can search by name, or snap a photo using your phone. After identifying the plant, you can read a short description, see additional photos and follow links to Wikipedia, PlantUse, and other sites.
PlantSnap is a good compromise between free and paid features; you can use it for free with ads or upgrade to an ad-free version for $2.99 per month ($19.99 annually or $29.99 lifetime). The visual photo identification is easy to use, and there’s a tutorial for beginners. After snapping a photo, the app even lets you zoom and pan to send the best version of the photo to the app’s AI, so you can get the most accurate results from the database of over 625,000 plants. If you want a little futuristic flair, put the app in augmented reality mode so you can identify plants while pointing the phone without even snapping a photo. It’s available for both Android and iPhone.
You need to create an account to begin using Garden Answers, either signing up for a premium plan for $3.99 per year or getting weekly marketing emails for the free version. You can use the app to ask one-on-one questions to a professional horticulturist ($1.99 per question), find plants nearby by searching a map, interact with an online community and more. Of course, there’s a visual plant identifier; snap a picture or choose one from your phone for instant identification.
iPlant is perhaps the simplest and most straightforward plant identification app. There are no special features here like community forums, browsable plant encyclopedias or paid upgrades. The app is little more than a camera that sends your snap off to an AI for evaluation. The results are brief but informative, and you can perform a more thorough Google search with a single tap. Unfortunately, this app is iOS only, so Android owners will have to look elsewhere.
You can use Planta (available for both iOS and Android) for free, but most of the best features are contained in the premium version, which costs $35.99 per year or $7.99 a month. That includes the visual plant identification tool — just tap the search box followed by the Identify plant by picture icon — to photograph a leaf and get an instant analysis. But the real focus of this app is to help you care for your own indoor or outdoor garden, so unless you have a green thumb and want help managing your plants or garden, the app could be overkill.
PictureThis is among the most comprehensive visual plant identifiers for iOS and Android, but there’s no free tier. You get a week free to try it out, but the app is $29.99 per year after that. Available for both iOS and Android, it has a lot of features that’ll appeal to home horticulturists, including an auto-diagnosis tool to tell you what’s ailing your plants, a light meter, and an insect identifier. When it comes to IDing plants, not only can you take snapshots, but also perform a “360 identify” (in which you capture photos from several angles) and an AR scan to ID plants without pressing the shutter. There’s also a tree-ring analysis tool, weed identifier, and more. It’s not free, but it’s worth the expense.
While PlantNet is a great (and free) plant identification app for both Android and iPhone, it’s even better for groups of people. The app is a self-described “citizen science project” that lets you join groups within the app and share your data with others, as well as see what they have found as well. There aren’t a ton of other features here, but it’s a great option to ID plants without spending money and exploring what others are finding around you as well.