Have you ever been on a hike, walk or any form of nature and wondered “What type of plant is that?!” Recently on my daily walk, I had just that happen when I found these beautiful green plantlike balls I have never seen in my neighborhood before. I got curious and searched for an app that could identify them. Google Goggle’s App didn’t identify them but the app that did, and in seconds I might add, was Pl@ntNet. Pl@ntNet is an application that allows you to identify plants simply by photographing them with your smartphone.
Pl@ntNet is also a great citizen science project: all the plants you photograph are collected and analyzed by scientists around the world to better understand the evolution of plant biodiversity and to better preserve it.
Pl@ntNet allows you to identify and better understand all kinds of plants living in nature: flowering plants, trees, grasses, conifers, ferns, vines, wild salads or cacti. Pl@ntNet can also identify a large number of cultivated plants (in parks and gardens) but this is not its primary purpose.
The Pl@ntNet app was easy to use after downloading it from either Google Play or Apple Store. I took a picture of the planet in question while in the app (you can also choose from your phone gallery) and then chose which type of plant it was; leaf, flower, fruit, bark, habit or other. After you choose that it does a quick search within seconds and then give you their results plus others who have taken pictures of the same plant!
It solved my question on what was growing in my neighborhood within seconds and thank goodness as I was close to cutting the Osage Orange open to see what’s inside. Now I will not since Osage Oranges secrete a white thick latex when cut open!
To keep inventory growing Pl@ntNet needs users to inventory the wild plants, those that you can observe in nature of course but also those that grow on the sidewalks of our cities or in the middle of your vegetable garden! The more visual information you give to Pl@ntNet about the plant you are observing, the more accurate the identification will be. There are indeed many plants that look alike from afar and it is sometimes small details that distinguish two species of the same genus.
Flowers, fruits and leaves are the most characteristic organs of a species and it is them that should be photographed first. But any other detail can be useful, such as thorns, buds or hair on the stem. A photograph of the whole plant (or the tree if it is one!) is also very useful information, but it is often not sufficient to allow a reliable identification.
At present Pl@ntNet makes it possible to recognize about 20,000 species. They are still a long way from the 360,000 species living on earth, but Pl@ntNet is getting richer every day thanks to the contributions of the most experienced users.
The new version of Pl@ntNet released in January 2019 includes many improvements and new features:
- The ability to filter recognized species by genus or family.
- The differentiated data revision that gives more weight to users who have demonstrated the most skills (in particular the number of species observed, validated by the community).
- The re-identification of shared observations, whether yours or those of other users of the application.
- The multi-flora identification that allows you to search for the photographed plant in all the flora of the application and not only in the one you have selected. Very useful when you are not sure what flora to look for.
- The selection of your favorite floras to access them more quickly.
- The navigation at different taxonomic levels in image galleries.
- The mapping of your observations.
- Links to many factsheets.
The Pl@ntNet app is available at the Google Play and Apple Store for free. The web version of the application is also available at the following address: https://identify.plantnet.org/. To learn more about Pl@ntNet app please visit: https://plantnet.org/en/.