PictureThis: A Plant Identification App

I wrote the post below a few years ago and, for whatever reason, never pulled the "publish" trigger.  I think I was fearful that it was premature, that I hadn't used the PictureThis app enough to really tell people about how handy it was.  I used PictureThis again while down in Nashville though and it once again proved a useful resource as I set about familiarizing myself with the groovy, new-to-me plants down there. 

Doing so made me remember this languishing draft, which actually has echoes of my recent post--"Exotic and unfamiliar birds are one of the things we really love about traveling.  Same with plants!"  So, better late than never.  I'm gonna finally publish it.  

The post below was written in November 2018 and I am sharing it now as written, though I did add some hyperlinks to related posts.  I feel the review holds up three years later.
"I love traveling.  I am immensely gratified by it.  I love immersing myself in foreign landscapes.  I love interacting with new and diverse people and cultures.  I love trying unheard of restaurants and fresh local fruit.
Red Bird of Paradise Flower
One of the best things about travelling, if you ask me, is all the foreign flora and fauna to discover--birds, trees, flowers, cacti, reptiles, and so on.  (Not just in wild places either!  Sometimes just in people's front yards!!)
The world is so varied and wonderful.  The ecology of Montana is so vastly different than say, Arkansas or California.  I find it captivating.  Endlessly so.
When we were in Arizona last month we saw three new-to-us birds:  Gambel's Quail, Verdin, and the Great Tailed Grackle.  These we identified using our eyeballs and our trusty NatGeo bird guide.
When it comes to plants we are a little less savvy though, especially outside of the mountain west.  I am working to fill the void, but find plants decidedly more challenging than birds.  Which is sort of surprising since the birds rarely sit still.
Baja Fairy Duster
I was pleasantly surprised by my ability to recall a bunch of the southern plants from my brief exposure to them last year at Saguaro National Park.  (Oh!  I love those Palo Verde trees!)  Even still, I was all the more pleased when my sister-in-law, Bek, clued me in about this free plant ID app that she'd been using.  
PictureThis is available at both the Apple and Google app stores.  They have a paid-version, but I've just been using the free one.  It has ads, but I'm willing to overlook them in the interest of educating myself.
White Rain Lily
With the app I could snap a photo of any flower or leaf and it would run through a database of photos and come up with a probable match, as well as a couple possible alternates.
Various colors of Lantana.
PitcureThis wasn't 100%, but it was impressively spot on overall.  The citrus trees seemed to throw it for a loop, but with the flowers and cacti is was quite accurate.  I often do a confirmation double-check in Google.  So, technology for the win, I guess!  I was able to ID/confirm my memory on loads of different southern plants.  I mean, if we're going to have the phoneputer it might as well help up be better naturalists, I figure.
Saguaro Cactus
Teddy Bear Chollo
Prickly Pear Cactus
Barrel Cactus
Now, next time I head south, I'll have an even bigger mental database to drawn upon, in addition to this swell digital back up."


  1. I especially love learning about plants when in new places, and my husband is a plant guy too, so we often end up at gardens, arboretums and such when on vacation. An app I've been enjoying is LeafSnap.

  2. I might follow your example and get this app! My friend has an app that works like this and when I saw her using it, I thought longingly of books and field guides (I know you love books too!). . . but the dang little phone is just so much more convenient. . . and I do love all these plants you identified and shared!

    1. Oh, yes....I love paging through a field guide. I learn so much each time and that serves me as
      I make further explorations.

      I typically pack two bird guides and a mammal guide when I travel. (Plus, two books for pleasure reading...) I still haven't found a plant guidebook that I feel is THE ONE, you know? I have a little pamphlet of Rocky Mountain flowers that I use sometimes and I checkout tree and plant guides to test drive from the library. I am still waiting to find my "ideal" plant guidebook though.

  3. Hi Beth,
    ...what a neat and handy app to have...I'll have to get that one...
    ~Have a lovely day!

    1. I have learned a lot because of it. I hope it proves useful to you as well.


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