Plantsnap - app for identifying plants

This was suggested to me as an aid to helping me with my botany knowledge, which is a complete blank in my brain. I bought it after reading several reviews. Cost HK$28. I was aware that it had a USA / Europe bias but was building out Asia too.

The idea is that you take a picture with your phone from within the app and it will tell you what it is. It gives you a confidence level, alternatives and in some cases further information. You can also take photos with a camera and import them into the app later.

I started off badly. I think my first go (with plants I could ID) had about a 20% success rate. The second go wasn't much better so I contacted the support team. The first feedback was that my images were blurred. Well one definitely was and ironically the algorithm got that one right! The other was pretty sharp when it left me and in my view was an easy species to ID (Chinese Ixora) but the app failed. So lesson one is that you really need a steady hand if the conditions are difficult. I was shooting under dark skies and in a wooded area. Still, my iPhone X normally produces ok results.

The next day I took my Fuji X-T1 and the Fuji 80mm macro lens with 5 stops (?) of image stabilisation. Still I had less than stellar results. So back to the support team. They took my images and essentially cropped them heavily. I had already cropped some but they reduced the images so that the algorithm could pick up a lot of detail from a small area. The benefit of this is to make sure no 'confusion species' creep into the frame. They re-ran my images and most came up with an identification. One was identified as a species that does not occur in HK - the app was close but picked the North American equivalent. The team agreed and the HK species is being added to the catalogue. One I am not sure of. The others look correct.

So there is hope but even after watching the instruction video it needs a fair bit of trial and error. I think it is worth persevering with and clearly it learns as it goes. The support team has been very helpful. If you accept its limitations give it a go. It costs only HK$28 and the more you input the quicker it will learn. I think the best approach is to take better quality photos and run them through the app when you get home. That will also lessen the drain on your data usage.

Posted on January 31, 2018 10:48 AM by andrewhardacre andrewhardacre


That's interesting...I didn't realize there were apps for that. I have been testing the AI on the iNat app on local stuff and it has been pretty accurate, though there is a huge bias in my area due to the large iNat community.

Out of curiosity, have you also used the iNat app suggestions to try and get plant IDs in Hong Kong?

Posted by briangooding almost 6 years ago

PlantSnap is making some seriously false claims in their attempts to gain investors in their product, such as:

--claiming to have "thousands of images of every plant species on the planet"
--"PlantSnap can currently recognize 90% of all known species of plants and trees" and
--"will have every species on Earth covered by the end of 2017"

They should probably be reported to the Better Business Bureau...

Posted by bouteloua almost 6 years ago

@briangooding no I haven't tried using the iNat suggestions on plants although I have on insects. Worth a go. Good reminder, thanks.

Posted by andrewhardacre almost 6 years ago

@bouteloua I can't comment on that I just know its not nearly as easy as claimed. I tried another batch last night and I could not get close with them. Maybe there is a knack and I am not yet proficient enough. Yesterday they said this to me: "FYI...We are adding 2200 species of orchids during the first week of March! They are currently in the training process."

Posted by andrewhardacre almost 6 years ago

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