Top 2 Apps for Plant Identification

Top 2 Apps for Plant Identification

The right app can help you connect with nature, participate in citizen science projects, and learn about dangerous or invasive plants.

Fourteen Wirecutter employees and their families tested seven apps (all available for free) in nine states, in both rural and urban areas, using Android and Apple phones.

If you simply want an app that can quickly and accurately identify plants, we recommend PlantNet Plant Identification. If you want an app that allows you to share your results with other naturalists (whether amateur or professional), we have an option for you too.

Our choice

If you need an instant and accurate way to identify plants, without having to navigate through confusing ads, this is the app for you. But it’s lighter on background information than some other apps we’ve tested.

If you just need quick, accurate plant identifications from an easy-to-use app, we recommend PlantNet Plant Identification (iOS and Android). Within five seconds, this app was able to distinguish a soft yellow violet from an eastern redbud, a weeping forsythia from a tall goldenrod, and a maple from an oak.

Unlike many apps we’ve tried, PlantNet doesn’t consume ads or deceptive pop-ups that trick you into paying for additional features. Although it doesn’t offer as seamless a sharing experience as iNaturalist or as much basic plant information as some other apps we’ve tested, PlantNet provides quick and easy identifications that our testers found to be consistently accurate.

Great too

Besides identifying plants, this app makes it easy to share and confirm your results with other observers, including amateur and professional naturalists. However, this option is not as easy to use as our top pick.

For teachers, community educators, and citizen scientists who want to be able to identify the plants they find as well as learn and share information about them, iNaturalist (iOS and Android) is the app we recommend. Expert researchers and other experienced users walk around the app and publicly confirm shared definitions.

It’s also easy to create and participate in citizen science projects from within the app, whether your goal is to share observations with other amateur naturalists in your area or to help expert researchers obtain a broader range of observations (the results of which sometimes end up in journal articles scientific).

Although it performed well in our accuracy tests, iNaturalist was not quite as accurate as PlantNet. It’s also a little trickier to use.

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