The 2 Best Plant Identification Apps

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.

If you simply want an app that will quickly and accurately identify plants, we recommend PlantNet Plant Identification. If you want an app that allows you to share your findings with other naturalists (whether they’re amateur or professional), we have a pick for you too.

Our pick

If you need an immediate, accurate way to ID plants, without having to navigate confusing ads, this is the app for you. But it’s lighter on background information than some other apps we tested.

If you just need quick, accurate plant identifications from an app that’s simple to use, we recommend PlantNet Plant Identification (iOS, Android). 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

Along with identifying plants, this app makes it easy to share and confirm your findings with other observers, including both amateur and professional naturalists. However, this one is not as simple to use as our top pick.

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 (iOS, Android) 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.

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