Instant Identification of Trees Is Possible Using Smartphone App

Botanists from the Smithsonian Institution have helped develop a smartphone app that can identify tree species within seconds using visual recognition software and then share the location with a growing database of tree populations.

After a user takes a photo of a leaf with his or her smartphone device, the so-called Leafsnap app searches a library of leaf photographs compiled by Smithsonian and almost immediately delivers high-resolution photographs of the likely species, along with information on flowers, fruits, seeds, and bark. In addition, the geographical data of that query is shared with a community of scientists tracking flora across the U.S. Currently, the app covers all trees found in New York City's Central Park and Washington's Rock Creek Park, but will eventually provide a database of trees nationwide, said John Kress, a Smithsonian research botanist who developed the app with engineers from Columbia University and the University of Maryland.

Leafsnap is currently available for iPhones and iPads, but will soon be expanded to include Androids.

Reprinted with permission from Yale Environment 360