A month ago, a friend wanted to identify a tree in her backyard, and after a few people commented with guesses, someone commented with an app that can identify plants. I have had such an educational & fun time using the app, that I thought I would share it with you!
Identifying species safely with kids
Seek is a free app, provided by iNaturalist. The app is used only on your phone, not synced to the web, so no information about you is shared. Also, the photos that you take, even if you take them using the Seek camera, are stored only on your device.
identify plants in the wild & in the Garden
Our family has always enjoyed nature journaling and spending time in nature every day. I can identify cultivated plants pretty well, but have always been lost when it comes to the “weeds” that tiny hands brought me to enjoy. I’m so happy to know their names now!
Using the app, you ‘scan’ or photograph the plant, and you’ll see a result when it has reached genus, then species. Once you have identified the plant by species, it will then be saved under ‘My Observations.” These observations are only stored on your phone.
Here are a few plants I found recently while walking in different locations near home. The blueberries were spotted at the local blueberry farm – I was delighted to find out they’re native plants!
These plants and “weeds” were in our yard. The sorghum grew from some chicken feed that spilled! I didn’t know what it was until today.
Find out more about a plant you have observed
Once a plant species has been identified, you can click on it to learn more about that plant. Here, I uploaded a photo (you don’t have to use the app live, you can load photos into it later) of what we call a ‘pitcher plant.’ It is a beautiful plant that captures bugs and actually digests them!
Through Seek, we can see that this plant is native but also endemic (not found elsewhere), and that is a threatened species.
identify bugs, animals, birds and other species in nature
Things in nature that are not plants can move quickly. But if you are able to capture them in a photo, upload them into the Seek app, and it can help you identify them. I haven’t been able to get a good photo of any of these species yet, but hope to do so soon!
how to get the free seek app
Tip: If you are using the app’s camera ‘live,’ it will help you identify the species by prompting you to move your camera around the species. If you are uploading a photo and cannot get the Seek app to identify the species, click Edit, then Crop the photo to show the species better (when you’re finished: click Edit, then Crop, then Revert to get the photo back to the original).