Q&A: Can you recommend apps or websites for plant identification?

taking a cell phone photo of a plant
A well-focused photo of a flower can be uploaded to an app for identification. Photo: Dan Adler

Q: Can you recommend apps or websites to help with plant identification?

A: The Picture This app does a good job with basic plant identification and works both on iPhone and Android. Take a good clear photo of any distinguishing features of your plant (e.g., flowers, fruits, leaf arrangement) for the best results. When you upload your photo to the app, it uses artificial intelligence technology to compare the details of your plant to those in its database of 10,000+ species. It will come up with the most promising matches within seconds.

In my experience, Picture This is not always accurate, but it does well most of the time. It is the best app I have found for plant identification. It will often get you to the correct plant family or genus, if not the exact species. The app also provides information about growing conditions and care tips for your plant.

Another good app is iNaturalist. This app was developed jointly by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society and also works both on iPhone and Android. It has a large community of users, including scientists who contribute to it and use some of the data for their research.

taking a photo of a leaf with phone

Similar to Picture This, you can submit your photos to iNaturalist and the app searches a database to find the best match. You also can crowdsource an answer by asking for help from people who use the app. Knowledgeable members of the iNaturalist community will identify and verify your observations. In addition to plants, iNaturalist identifies insects, birds, other animals, and even fungi.

There are basic videos online to help you learn how to use the features of iNaturalist. Some nature centers and community groups occasionally offer hands-on workshops to learn and practice using the app. For example, if you are in the vicinity of Montgomery County, Maryland, the Maryland Native Plant Society’s January 28, 2020, meeting in Kensington will focus on how to use some of the more advanced features of iNaturalist (Discover the Full Capabilities of iNaturalist).

In my experience, Picture This has been more accurate with plant identification whereas iNaturalist is stronger for identifying insects and other animals. Since these tools are still developing, it is a good idea to check the results with another reference to verify the identification. For example, you can submit your photo(s) to the Home and Garden Information Center’s Ask an Expert team if you would like further assistance or more information about our local plants in particular. As more people use and contribute to plant identification apps, surely they will improve and become more refined.

potted plant and a laptop computer

There are also several Facebook groups that are helpful for identifying plants. The ones I have found most useful are Plant Identification, Maryland Native Plant Society Discussion Group, and Capital Naturalist. There are many others. In your Facebook account, find the Groups section and search for your topic of interest, whether it be houseplants, trees, flowers, or something else. There are groups for everyone and you can use them to crowdsource an answer or simply follow along and learn more about your subject of interest. Be sure to read and follow the rules of the groups you join.

Have fun, plant explorers!

By Christa K. Carignan, Coordinator, Digital Horticulture Education, University of Maryland Extension Home & Garden Information Center

2 thoughts on “Q&A: Can you recommend apps or websites for plant identification?

  1. Pat January 10, 2020 / 9:59 pm

    Before you download you should know Picture This app costs $20 PER YEAR after the 7 day free trial. You don’t find this out until after your download.

  2. Dustin Miller September 24, 2020 / 1:03 am

    Well, plant identification has become a new hobby among nature lovers; especially in the lockdown time. And believe me, I myself am a plant hobbyist and its fun.

    As a gardening lover, I have used multiple plant identification apps and to my surprise, they are pretty accurate in identifying various plants and flowers.

    I have used all of the best ones for a couple of years now. At present, I can name at least 5 of the best plant identification apps that fulfill my needs.

    Here are the 5 Plant identification apps that can help you identify almost any type of weed, plant, or flower in the world.


    iNaturalist is nothing short of “Shazam for plants.” It not only identifies plants and trees but also recognizes “four-legged animals” around you. Isn’t it amazing? You can also connect with like-minded people that are into nature and converse with them about your plant findings and gardening tips.

    PlantNet Plant Idetifiaction:

    Plantnet is a humongous database of plant information. You can find billions of plant images in this giant database for plant lovers. The community and its plant database are growing rapidly with time as millions of people are using this app. Currently, there are about 20,000+ identified plant species available in the app.


    If you are a beginner and your sole goal is to just identify the plant and save it for your future reference this might be an app for you. The best part about this app is that it has the easiest user interface that even a kid can use. I can guarantee that if you are a beginner you will surely fall in love with this app on the first try. Also, Plantyx boast of having 95% accuracy in plant identification.


    Like iNaturalist, NatureID also lets you identify the plants as well as the animals you see. Not only just species identification, but the app also allows you to know if the plant has any disease or abnormalities just based on the picture uploaded. The articles and news feed of the app keep you informed on the latest findings about plants and animals in general.


    Blossom is also among the most popular app for plant lovers. One of the unique features of this app is that apart from identifying the plants and trees, the app also lets you set a reminder for particular plants care. Isn’t it an amazing feature? The paid version gives you an unlimited number of notifications and reminders.

    These 5 are the most popular plant identification apps among plant lovers. I have saved my favorite for the last and it is a bonus for you if you are an Android phone user.

    Google Lens (Bonus):

    Google Lens is Google’s amazing app developed to identify any objects from pictures. It’s not just limited to plants but anything that you want to know. Just point the camera and click the picture using the Google lens app and it will run an image search just like Google does with words. I personally like Google lens a lot and use it frequently for finding different plant species.

    If you like to see the detailed description and all the features of these amazing plant identification apps, here’s the link to the blog.


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