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Jul 18 2013 - 08:00 PM

Leafsnap is a mobile app that uses visual recognition software to identify tree species based on photos of leaves that users take with their iPhones. When users take a snapshot of a leaf the software can identify the tree of origin and users are able to learn about the different characteristics of the tree. The app features identification photographs of the leaves and beautiful high-resolution images of flowers, fruit, petioles, seeds, and bark. The mobile platform is ideal for anyone interested in learning more about nature or students of biology. Leafsnap also features a community element that enables users to share images, species identifications, and geocoded stamps of species locations with other users of the app. This shared data is used to create a nationwide map of tree and flora species.


The app is easy to use for tree identification. After users take a snapshot of a leaf they are provided with more information and more photos of the target tree. Users can also track the locations of different species on a map. Some simple and fun matching games are also included to test users’ tree identification skills.


In order for the app to recognize the leaf users may have to place it on a white sheet of paper. The mobile device must also be connected to the internet to identify the specimen, so the app may not work in more remote areas.

Our Takeaway:

Leafsnap is a powerful tool for learning in the field instead of in a classroom. Unlike a paper field guide, it connects users to a wealth of information about a tree species just by taking a picture of a leaf. When users snap pictures of leaves they have the option to geocode the location of the tree species. This geocoded data is then shared with a community of scientists who use it to visualize the locations of different tree species and track their growth across the country. Leafsnap is similar to Project Noah as both platforms turn users into citizen scientists.

The Bottom Line:

Leafsnap lets users become botanists in the field.

Image: Logo (via Leafsnap)
|By: Demetri Lales|1013 Reads