Museum launches tree identification app

May 23, 2014, Natural History Museum
Museum launches tree identification app
Leafsnap UK home screen, left, and results list for an oak tree leaf.

Leafsnap UK, a collaboration between Museum botanists and US software developers, could revolutionise summer walks.

A free for iPhone created by the Museum, using technology similar to , enables users to take a simple photo of a leaf and have it matched to a database of 156 .

Its launch coincides with the UN's International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May, created to promote understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues worldwide.

As well as instant , the app also contains more than 2,000 high-res images of tree features, such as flowers, fruit, bark and leaves.

Fact files are also available, including information on whether the tree is native or introduced, where it grows, when it blooms, and other clues to help with identification.

Whenever users take and upload a leaf photo, the image and geographical location is added to the Leafsnap database. This information can then be used by scientists monitoring the UK's tree population, the effect of climate change on trees, and in general biodiversity research.

This type of crowdsourcing is becoming an increasingly popular way to help scientists monitor species and the environment.

Museum launches tree identification app
Cherry crab apple, Malus robusta, fruit cluster, featured in the app.

Museum botanist and identification expert Dr Fred Rumsey, who helped develop the app, said he hoped it would encourage people to explore the UK's fantastic diversity of .

'I hope the app inspires people to spend time outside, enjoying their local green spaces and perhaps to even get involved with some of our other citizen science projects,' he said.

Museum scientists working in the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity worked with the teams who created the original Leafsnap app in the US, which launched in 2011.

The botanists used their expertise to choose the species to be included in Leafsnap UK and to collect the thousands of leaf, flower, fruit, cone, seed and bark specimens featured. They also researched and wrote the descriptive text for each tree.

Explore further: Researchers launch first iPhone field guide using visual search

More information: Download free Leafsnap UK from the App Store: … -uk/id877397884?mt=8

Related Stories

Professor develops mobile app to identify plant species

June 8, 2011

( -- Not every child can dream up a smartphone application and see it come to life. But that’s what happened when 8-year-old William Belhumeur suggested his father make an app that identifies plants using ...

Plant identification becomes snap

November 26, 2013

Identifying New Zealand's unique native flora is set to become much easier with the launch of Flora Finder, a smart phone app developed by the University of Otago and MEA Mobile.

Capturing tree data with free smartphone app

December 10, 2013

Murdoch University researchers have helped develop a new smartphone application that will allow the public to record incidences of marri canker and Quambalaria shoot blight (QSB) from Geraldton to Albany.

Recommended for you

Earth's deep mantle flows dynamically

March 25, 2019

As ancient ocean floors plunge over 1,000 km into the Earth's deep interior, they cause hot rock in the lower mantle to flow much more dynamically than previously thought, finds a new UCL-led study.

Scientists solve mystery shrouding oldest animal fossils

March 25, 2019

Scientists from The Australian National University (ANU) have discovered that 558 million-year-old Dickinsonia fossils do not reveal all of the features of the earliest known animals, which potentially had mouths and guts.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet May 23, 2014
This is similar to an article published in 2011. I cannot locate a site where LeafSnap can be downloaded. I suppose educational institutions aren't immune from "vaporware" announcements.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.