I am always coming across plants that I admire and might like to grow—flowers that cascade over the edge of a neighbor's wall, a shrub with a nice shape, a vine that has turned an ugly chain link fence into a velvety green backdrop. If only I knew the names of these plants and whether they would thrive in my garden. Enter Plantifier.
(Need help ID'ing plants and leaves? See our earlier post about 10 Top Apps to Identify Leaves and Plants.)
A free app that works on both Apple and Android phones, Plantifier is supposed to help you ID plants. Or, to be more precise, Plantifier's other users are supposed to help you. A crowd-sourced app created by Belgian-based designers TrendsCo., Plantifier lets you snap a photo of a plant you see, then upload it so other users can suggest names (or, in the absence of making a positive ID, suggest clues that might help you identify the plant yourself).
How well does Plantifier work? We took it along on two hikes during the past week—one walk through the Phoenix desert and another on a mountain in Northern California) and snapped a couple of dozen photos of plants along the way, hoping for IDs:
Photographs by Michelle Slatalla.
Altogether we uploaded 24 photos, mostly of common plants including cacti (in Phoenix) and ferns (in Northern California). Plantifier makes it easy to snap a photo and upload it—and afterward, you can save the photos in your personal collection to refer to later.
So far, we've only gotten two responses from other Plantifier users. One was on a photo of a cactus we had uploaded with a comment: "Looks like some kind of small cactus?" The only response has been from another user who wrote: "Type? No guesses. Sorry ;-("
(Luckily a friend who was hiking with us was more knowledgeable and informed us that it was a barrel cactus. So we made the identification even without Plantifier's help.)
To be fair, plenty of the zillions of mystery plants that other users have uploaded to Plantifier have been identified. You can scroll through Plantifier's archive of uploads to see them. For instance, one photo of a glossy green leaf was identified as a "Ficus elastica, Rubber Fig."
But for now, at least, it seems as if Plantifer is hit-or-miss. Its main value is that it organizes your uploaded photos of plants in a single place. Every photo you snap becomes part of your personal collection, accessible whenever you click the "Home" button. It's handy for when you go to the local nursery and want to ask someone there for help identifying a plant.
It's hard to complain about a free app; Plantifier didn't cost us anything to install or test. And now we have some pretty photos of plants to scroll through. But if you're looking for an app that helps you identify leaves and trees, our top pick is still Leafsnap, which matches your photo to images in its library. You can read more about Leafsnap and other gardening apps we've tested here.