You often want to identify different flora and fauna while hiking. Since I have my smartphone with me either way, I would like to have an app to do so.

Which apps tackle the described use-case and also do they work offline?

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    Picture This - android app, it's not perfect but not terrible, does plants but thought our Flax was a pineapple.
    – Aravona
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 10:36
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    The "mandatory xkcd reference" meme has found its way to TGO: xkcd.com/1425
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 13:53
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    @cobaltduck, it's not that bad now, social media has given certain companies sufficient incentive to solve the problem, including to the point of recognising not just that the photo has ducks in, but also the names of the individuals in the photo.
    – Separatrix
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 15:47
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    @Separatrix - The character in the comic says she needs a research team and five years. Said comic is 4.5 years old. Seems like a pretty good prediction. I honestly don't know where the state-of-the-art is in terms of the "is it a tiger or a field of orange and black flowers" problem. I'm sure the algorithms get better every day, but are still a long ways from even a four-year old human in terms of shape recognition.
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 18:26
  • Hi Kerri! Can you clarify a few things please, especially since the question has been edited? First, is your smartphone an Android or iPhone (iOS system)? Some companies have apps for both, but some are just for one or the other. Second, is ability to use it offline a requirement, or just something you'd appreciate? Last, does it have to be free? Some are, but some cost a few dollars! Thanks! Commented Jan 26, 2019 at 23:38

4 Answers 4


Not sure where you are, but Alan Weakley et al. have developed a downloadable flora app available through the Apple AppStore called FloraQuest, which covers most of the Eastern US at this point.

enter image description here

Screenshot from floraquest.com

From ResearchGate:

FloraQuest connects you with everything you need to know about naturally occurring plants in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic US: - Interactive dichotomous keys use your location to streamline the process of identifying plants - Illustrated glossary terms decipher botanical terms - Full descriptions of species, varieties, subspecies, genera, and plant families, including references, identification notes, images, and distributions - Powerful and quick search to find species (first two letters of genus + first two letters of species, e.g., ACRU finds Acer rubrum). - Record plants you find, with photos, dates, and location. Browse plants others have found and made public. - Show plants by common name or scientific (latin) name. FloraQuest is a product of the University of North Carolina Herbarium (http://herbarium.unc.edu) and was funded by Innovate Carolina


I love Seek, by iNaturalist:


Besides Flora: Fauna and Fungi are part of the detection possibilities. The answers are very detailed. Although there is room for improvement, the gamified approach is lots of fun while maintaining the scientific correctness.

Furthermore, the iNaturalist community is a great place to discover other's observations worldwide.

Another thing I like is, that you do not need to register, if you want to use the app.

Seek is funded by the California Academy of Sciences, National Geographic and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The app is available completely for free for all iOS and Android users.

See also: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations


Google Lens is Google's technology for "searching what you see", including plants and animal. Since it relies on Google's service, doesn't work offline.

Identify plants and animals

Find out what plant is in your friend's apartment, or what kind of dog you saw in the park.

It's available on:

  • Google Lens standalone app (Android 6.0+)
  • Google Assistant (Android 5.0+): "Look for the Lens icon in your Assistant."
  • Google Photos (Android, iOS 10+): "Look for the Lens icon on your photos."

Based on my experience in identifying my dog, photos of insects, and flowers, it might not always be too accurate, though the suggested results with their visual representation sometimes helped.

Disclaimer: not affiliated with Google, just a happy user of it.

  • I assume the question is on-topic as of currently written. Otherwise, let me know and I'm okay with deleting my answer.
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Jan 26, 2019 at 20:02

Pl@ntNet is a citizen science project based in France. It's a great way to identify plants. To you use it you take one or more picture of a plant and then Pl@ntNet will upload them to a server and the server will give you a list of its best guesses, along with confidence measures.

Pl@ntNet does cannot identify plants offline, nor can it identify animals.

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