Leafsnap For iPad
By Columbia University, University of Maryland, and Smithsonian Institution
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Leafsnap is the first in a series of electronic field guides being developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution. This free mobile app uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves.
Leafsnap contains beautiful high-resolution images of leaves, flowers, fruit, petiole, seeds, and bark. Leafsnap currently includes the trees of the Northeast and will soon grow to include the trees of the entire continental United States.
Note that the recognition feature will only be available for iPads equipped with cameras.
Pretty good, but missing a lot of trees
This is a very nice app, and has a whole wealth of knowledge that is easily accessible in a visual manner. it is extremely to use the app to explore trees and includes multiple different images of the leaves, seeds, flowers, but it lacks images of the entire tree which is always useful.
Despite all of its wonderful features, this app has one massive drawback. Its missing many many species. While it is often able to determine the correct genus (IE maple) the missing trees from the collection results in the app giving you the wrong tree, and in some cases even giving a species that is not the closest related to the missing tree within the genus.
Overall it is a wonderful app but be careful and double check the app's database or use a different guide if you have doubt about what species it gives you.
Very nice, but...
I love the idea, but the implementation is lacking. A single example - I know the tree in my yard is a hop hornbeam. Photo isolates well, and the program suggests euro hornbeam, a similar-leaved tree not found in my area. So it's not using location to help with suggestions. Strike one. Here's where it gets weird. Suggestions number two and three are oak and ginkgo, which could not look less similar. Followed by a long list of suggestions which do not include the right species. Strike two. So I use browse to look up hop hornbeam and find that it is in their database, but that the interface won't allow me to identify my picture as that because it's not on the suggested list. Strike three. And there are also odd gaps in the database - look up hazel, for example, and it's not there. This sounds like such a brilliant program, and perhaps some day it will be, but right now it's just random pictures of trees.
This is indeed the future! There is so much potential in this application, it's incredible. I would love to be a part of this effort, contributing photos of my area. I wonder if the nearby plants feature is collections based? If so, there is so much more data that could be added. I don't think it would be possible for this to work without a web connection, there is too much data to be loaded on to mobile devices, plus, 3G/4G will only become more available, even in remote locations. Love it, I've been waiting to try it even before it was released! Looking forward to more and more updates. P.S. If there was a price on it, it could pay for its own maintenance and updates...