It’s like Shazam for plants – PlantNet is a free app that can help you identify plants based on just taking a picture.

Photo: YouTube/InriaChannel

Most people think that science is something abstract, disconnected from the day to day reality of life, but I really don’t think that’s the case. If you want to encourage the scientist inside, observing and understanding the nature around you is a great way of doing so. No matter where you live, you’re bound to have some plants around you… but how many can you identify and understand them? To be honest, I can only work out the common ones from my area, and this type of app seems like it could be very useful.

The app collects data from a large social network that uploads pictures and information about plants. It’s also useful to learn more about plant morphology and biology. It also does another thing, though more subtle: it makes you interact more with nature. Let’s face it, we all pass by trees and plants every day, but we pay little attention to them; most of the time, we don’t even notice them. With a bit of practice, you could identify plants as you’re walking past them and not only keep your brain entertained, but also appreciate your surroundings more.

From what I tested it, it seems to work quite fine, but the data base is still a work in progress (especially from North America). Many plants are common between the temperate areas of Europe and North America however, and you can make deductions based on that, so you should be able to manage.

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This also works really well in tandem with another app, Leafsnap, that identifies trees based on leaf shape. It’s also not the only app of its kind – I was surprised to see there’s quite a number of apps that helps you identify flowers and trees. So, now you can go out and identify that rosebush… or is it a dahlia?

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