Roehampton Garden Society

Wildflower or weed?

As our plots abound with interesting greenery that we definitely did not plant, how can we check up whether some of these arrivals are welcome? A scorched earth strategy of pulling up everything doesn’t always pay dividends. Better a pretty wildflower in an open spot than empty earth ready for another batch of weeds to arrive and more weeding later on. It’s also the case that for every desirable wildflower there is a weed whose leaves are so very similar early on…

So, when it comes to making that decision, for those with a smart phone, help is at hand. Plant identifier apps can work very well – and some are free. Plantnet worked well last week on Site 3 – recommended by Greg’s garden designer daughter. Thank you, Laura!

Let’s see what’s available. You can read about 10 top apps here – the top 3 are featured below.


Labelled as “a citizen science project available as an app”, the database of this app is growing continuously thanks to the contributions of people all around the world.

This app is ideal for identifying wild plants, common houseplants, trees, herbs, vegetables, weeds, etc.

Free to use, no ads, and you can skip the registration screen.

Seek by iNaturalist

Seek does more than identify plants. It uses the power of image recognition technology to help you identify unknown plants, fungi, and animal species from photos.

For adventurers who like to spend their time exploring nature….

Free to use, no ads, and you can skip the registration screen.

Google Lens

Not just for plants, Google Lens uses the power of Google Images to enable you to identify objects, plants, text, and more, from a photo.

You can also use the image option on a Google web Search.

Free trial – but paid subscription for this app, and the usual Google requirements.

If it’s tree identification that interests you, do find out about the free app from the Woodland Trust here. Identify native and common non-native trees in the UK whatever the season using leaves, bark, twigs, buds, flowers or fruit.

The RHS have also announced their own identifier app this week. RHS Grow adds cultivation hints to identifying plants. Free at present – but do expect a subscription offer later on. Find out more here

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