Have you ever spotted a beautiful plant in the wild (or your neighbor’s front yard) and tried to figure out what it is? If so, you know exactly how frustrating that can be—even the best search engine needs more information than “it’s a red flowery thing that looks like a blooming onion” to figure out that you’ve spotted a dahlia.
What you need is PlantSnap, an app that takes advantage of the machine-learning framework built into iOS to instantly identify more than 300,000 species of plants, flowers, and trees. All you have to do is take a photo.
Here’s how it works: Get close to the flowers or leaves and snap a clear, well-lit pic. Then pinch to zoom in. From there PlantSnap will scan the hundreds of thousands of plants in its database.
Possible matches are delivered in seconds, with photos and descriptions that help you discern differences and teach you more about the plant. The app boasts an impressive 96 percent ID accuracy rate; you can even send your photo to an expert if the algorithm winds up stumped.
Added bonus: Your findings are used to improve the machine-learning process, making PlantSnap even better as time goes on.
If you’re running iOS 12 or later, an additional educational experience awaits. With Snap! mode, once you identify a flower or leaf, tap “Augmented Reality” to discover tappable bubbles and animations with background info related to the species. Topics include how photosynthesis works and the role bees play in pollination.
Your plant discoveries are stored on the My Collection tab. There you can learn more about them or share your findings—ideal for emailing examples to your local nursery or texting your hiking partner with confirmation of what exactly you saw in the woods.