No one knows the name of every plant or pest or tree in a client’s yard. But, with a smartphone and some of these apps, you have a world of information to search at your fingertips. Some apps don’t even require searching — just snap a photo. Here are 15 identification apps you and your crews should download.
1. Landscaper’s Companion – Plant & Gardening Reference Guide
With a reference guide to all plants including trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials, using this app gives you plant names and descriptions even without internet connection. Some versions allow users to add their own photos and keep notes on plants. There are versions for smartphones and the iPad.
2. Purdue Tree Doctor
Produced by Purdue University, you can use the collection of photos to diagnose what’s wrong and get options and recommendations for management for more than 175 tree problems.
3. Turfgrass Management – Lite
From professors at the University of Georgia, the app combines information from books on turfgrass science with photos for identifying turfgrass, weeds, diseases and insects.
4. Turf MD
Solely made to identify and manage turfgrass diseases, this app was created by the American Phytopathological Society. Peer-reviewed images and turf extension resources help identify and treat the disease in question.
5. Armitage’s Greatest Perennials and Annuals
Includes a large database of plants that can filter out for annuals, perennials or sun versus shade. Photos and plant information can be shared or added to a “Favorites” list. Helpful videos and other resources are also included.
6. Forest Insect Pests in North America
The app aims to help identify pests and insects using photos pulled from the expansive Bugwood.org photo library. Sources to find more information are listed on each species’ page.
Using visual recognition software, the app identifies tree species with photos of the leaves. There is also a user-generated map of sightings. Images of leaves, flowers, fruits, petioles, seeds and bark help with identification. The app was developed by Columbia University, the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution.
Using the phone’s location and GPS technology, the app compares the USDA soil map indexes to tell you the exact type of soil where you’re standing.
The best thing for identifying an unknown tree in the field is a dichotomous key. This app from Virginia Tech’s Department of Forestry is a digital version of a key that contains fact sheets for over 969 woody plants in North America.
10. Audubon Society Tree ID
Based off the book series, this app has photos and information for at least 716 North American tree species. Users can record their own data and share with colleagues.
11. BeeSmart Pollinator Garden
Lists of plants help you select the right one to attract pollinators in that area. In addition to specific pollinators, you can find correct soils, bloom color, sun to shade requirements and plant type.
12. The Plant Doctor
The app collects user-supplied information about a plant problem and sends it to a pathologist. Users choose symptoms from a list to receive a solution to the problem.
Users upload a photo of an unknown plant, and the MyGarden.org community replies with answers after trying to identify the plant from the image.
14. Southeast Early Detection Network
Using the app, the user can report invasive plants, animals, insects and plant pathogens in the Southeastern United States. The GPS will automatically capture the phone’s location when the report is submitted.
Although not currently helpful in North America due to the limited identification areas, the idea behind Pl@ntNet is to identify any plant based on a photo you take with your phone — and the phone’s location. With 6,400 separate plant entries in its database, the app is primarily designed to identify wildflowers.
Share what apps you find most helpful in the comments below.