I accidentally found an android app that might be useful for you and me. PlantSnap. It identifies unknown plant by taking image and comparing it to database. I bet it needs an active internet connection to do its job. I never tried with no data. However, I can’t figure out how can they fit the data down to 85 MB. It needs huge resource to do its job properly.
How can it be useful? When buying herb, not sure of its identity and want to make verification. The case of ginger and wild ginger. The turmeric and the look-a-alike. They have the same leaves and stems except for the white fleshy root of the fake. Biologist, foresters and enthusiast wanting/needing to identify unknown plant before them. For the sake of study or curiosity.
If unknown plant is at hand. One can simply ask a person who knows it. Lucky you if the plant of concern is a local. There is a very high chance that anyone in the area can tell what is it, including the details. In case not, you have to find an expert. A tedius way is comparing it to every biology book you can find. Is it worth it? If you are paid, then it is! Otherwise, you are wasting time for the sake of science.
Yes, I downloaded and installed the app despite of lots of bad reviews. There are lots of bads and still the average is four stars. In general, it is said the app cannot identify common plants and yet the developer’s claim of accuracy is 95%.
I tried it on several plants and it never identified correctly. It was giving wrong identification including several choices in case the first one was wrong.
It brings back the memories of me using Google Image Search. It works by uploading the image in question instead of typing keywords. It was failing miserably so I stopped using it. Posting it in social media is a very effective way. Why do we need unreliable app?
Premium subscription removes the ads and offers some perks. I am not sure if it improves identification accuracy.
Tried another app the day after. There were several choices to choose from the store. I decided to get the one that is community based and not flagged with ads. Yes, the previous one I tested bombarded me with ads. Few ads are just fine but too many gets very annoying.
It was Pl@ntNet. I did 11 identification trials and it got two correct answers. Was it bad? Yes it was. However, the good thing. It often presents many images to compare for better accuracy. It never cover images with ads while I was comparing images. Flashing unrelated items over the images of concern tend to make someone annoyed and loose focus. I get to decide whether upload my images or not in hope to identify it and help others. Not sure if the unidentified images is going to get its identity later. Good if it is.
Plant identification apps might not be accurate at the time being. But it helps narrow the choices and reduce effort.
Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.