Not everyone can be a green thumb. But for the rest of, so long as we have a smartphone, there’s hope. Developers in France have created a new app called PlantNet (hey, they’re tech people, not Tolstoy) that taps into the nearly infinite resources of Google to help identify species of plants in the wild.
Here’s how it works: You take a photo of a plant, leaf or flower and upload it with the app (it works on both iOs and Android). An algorithm then uses Google’s reverse image search to locate similar images. After compiling enough comparable data, it then tells the user the name of the plant they’re blankly staring at. Modern Farmer calls it the “Shazam for plants,” and it has already catalogued more than 6,000 different species in Western Europe alone.
Answers, people. We’re just looking for answers.
Unfortunately, for those us foraging through the foliage in North America, we might have to wait a little longer. That’s because the app relies on people submitting and tagging plant species to help the program’s AI improve it’s algorithm search results. The good news is that after starting as an app just for people in Western Europe, its results have expanded to include more than 2,500 different plants in North Africa, 1,000 plants around the Indian Ocean and more than 900 in South America.