The Best Plant Identification App

May 31, 2024

By Ellen Airhart (reposted from Wirecutter Jan. 25, 2024)

Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? With an accurate plant-identification app installed on your phone, you won’t have to guess.

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

Fourteen Wirecutter staffers and their families tested seven apps (all of them available free of charge) across nine states, in both rural and urban locations, using Android and Apple phones.

Our Pick

If you just need quick, accurate plant identifications from an app that’s simple to use, we recommend PlantNet Plant Identification (iOSAndroid). Within five seconds, this app was able to differentiate a downy-yellow violet from an eastern redbud, a weeping forsythia from a tall goldenrod, and a maple from an oak.

Unlike many of the apps we tried, PlantNet is not consumed with ads or sneaky pop-ups that trick you into paying for extra features. Although it doesn’t offer as seamless a sharing experience as iNaturalist or as much plant background information as some of the other apps we tested, PlantNet provides quick, easy identifications that our testers found to be consistently accurate.

Also Great

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

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 assist expert researchers in obtaining a larger field of observations (the results of which sometimes end up in scientific journal articles).

Though it did well in our accuracy testing, iNaturalist wasn’t quite as accurate as PlantNet. It’s also a little trickier to use.

Read the full article here to learn more about their methods for finding the best plant identification app!

Feature photo by Michael Murtaugh