While watching a video lecture from Geoff Lawton, he referenced LeafSnap (see below). This got me thinking about appropriate technologies we can use in our Permaculture designs. I wanted to share a few tree identification guides. Unfortunately for my international readers, these are just for North America. There are a few available for England (TreeID and ForestXplorer are two I know of).



LeafSnap is a tree identification app for Iphones and Ipads. This is the product of a collaboration between Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian. They use the technology in facial recognition software to identify tree leaves. After doing a bit of research, I think this program has the most potential, but it is not quite there yet. You need connectivity to a network, and not all places in the wilderness have it all the time. Because, this is a new program, the data recognition database is still being built. So the more people use the app, the better it gets… it learns as it grows. You take a photo and submit it, then the app gives you a listing of the possible tree choices. You look through the choices (and description and photos) and you can identify the tree. It is a bit more work, but it should get better and easier with time. But it is free, and has pretty good photos of all aspects of the tree (leaves, fruit, trunk, etc.).




MyNature Tree Guide is an app you need to buy (it costs $6.99 USD). Instead of visual recognition software to identify the tree, the user needs to work through an algorithm… simple yes or no questions that guide you to the right tree. I have used these in booklet form as well, and I really like this system. It is easy. It requires no connectivity. I haven’t spent a lot of time with the app yet, but I like it quite a bit. This will likely be my go to app until LeafSnap improves.

There are a number of other online tree identification guides, but these two are the only apps worth looking into right now. I do think the best online identification guide is What Tree is That by the Arbor Day Foundation. This uses a similar algorithm of simple yes or no questions as well… in fact, I think they are the first ones to take it mainstream for trees. I have used their booklets many times and really like them. And, for that matter, you can buy the booklets themselves on the Arbor Day Foundation website.

Take a look at these. Load them on your mobile device. I think it is wise to use technology in appropriate ways to further our knowledge and aid in building sustainability.



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Photo References:

  • http://www.creativitysparkslife.com/sheblogs/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/2-leaf-anniv-tree.jpg
  • All other photos are from the referenced sites.