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These days it seems there is an app for everything, including finding out what creature critter or plant you are looking at. But are they useful? Are they accurate?

We tested 10 popular apps out on the field to put them through their paces, and picked 3 of our favourites. We looked at ease of use, accuracy, costs involved and what additional features they have.

flora incognita logo

Flora Incognita

Our favourite app from the ones tested, this is free to download with no intrusive adverts or other costs involved.

The aim of the Flora Incognita research project is mapping plants, therefore they record and use the location of where the plants are found.

That means using this app is not only beneficial to your learning, but also makes an important contribution to biodiviersity monitoring and research.

This app combines traditional plant identification with the latest methods of AI. To identify, simply click on the plus symbol which takes you through your options.

Ease of use 5/5
Identification skills 4/5
Range of features 4/5

Download

picture this logo

Picture This

Claiming to be ‘the botanist in your pocket’, this app uses advanced artificial intelligence and was accurate for a wide range of species, from Sea Thrift to trickier species such as Mouse-ear Hawkweed.

Advertised as £24.99 a year, you can use the app indefinitely to identify plants without paying: when you open the app you come to a pre-home screen where you click cancel.

Other benefits include the app’s ability to identify common grasses, sedges and fungi – but we recommend some caution with these due to the cryptic nature of IDing these species. Picture This also has common questions and answers for each plant, along with stories and other interesting facts such as flowering times.

Ease of use 5/5
Identification skills 4/5
Range of features 4/5

Download

inaturalist logo

iNaturalist (and Seek)

iNaturalist was created with the aims of recording your observations and sharing them with the ability to crowdsource identifications. The app is free and has a range of handy features that make uploading a breeze, including an automatic location based on the photos’ GPS tag, and the ability to record other wildlife such as insects and birds.

We found the app very accurate to a plant’s genus, a group of similar species, and sometimes even down to the specific species when multiple photos are added. This makes it the perfect tool for you to take your plant ID knowledge further with a field guide.

Seek is a simpler version of iNaturalist with an easier interface for the family. We found Seek had less accuracy in the field, so if you’re looking for something more thorough, we recommend downloading iNaturalist.

Ease of use 5/5
Identification skill 5/5
Range of features 4/5

Download

 

Tips on using your phone to identify wild plants

  • There are ways to use your phones built in search assistants, however as they’re not purpose built for plants the results aren’t as accurate, unless they are obvious looking species.
  • We strongly advise you to only use plant ID apps as training tools rather than solely for identification. You could use the app to narrow your identification to a genus, then use your favourite plant guidebook.
  • From a health and safety note, the plant apps drained our phone charge extremely quickly therefore ensure you bring a portable phone charger to contact people if required.
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