May 19, 2022

A New and Very Cool Cameraphone/Visual Search App: Identify Trees in a Snap With LeafSnap

A couple of weeks ago we posted about a new mobile app (for iOS) that lets users take a cameraphone picture of a food item and then, in a few seconds, receive nutritional info about that item. We also talked about a free app from LTU Technology allowing users to take a picture and then (hopefully) receive info/links/etc. about whatever is in the picture. The post mentions other cameraphone searching tools from Google, Bing, and others including and their SnapTell app.

Cameraphone search is far from a new idea and we’re beginning to see (no pun intended) more and more uses for the technology. What this means for QR Codes in the future is something that we will have to keep an eye on.

Today, word of a NEW and cool (very cool) app for iOS that allows users to take a picture of a leaf and then let LeafSnap  (the name of the app) identify the tree species the leaf comes from. The technology and app comes via a joint project from Columbia U., University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution.

From the Announcement:

[An] electronic field guide allows users to identify tree species simply by taking a photograph of the tree’s leaves. In addition to the species name, Leafsnap provides  high-resolution photographs and information about the tree’s flowers, fruit, seeds and bark—giving the user a comprehensive understanding of the species.


Users of Leafsnap will not only be learning about the trees in their communities and on their hikes—they will also be contributing to science. As people use Leafsnap, the free mobile app automatically shares their images, species identifications and the tree’s location with a community of scientists. These scientists will use the information to map and monitor population growth and decline of trees nationwide. Currently, Leafsnap’s database includes the trees of the Northeast, but it will soon expand to cover the trees of the entire continental United States.

The visual recognition algorithms developed by Columbia University and the University of Maryland are key to Leafsnap. Each leaf photograph is matched against a leaf-image library using numerous shape measurements computed at points along the leaf’s outline. The best matches are then ranked and returned to the user for final verification.

You can learn more and download the free app here. Right now, the app is for iOS. Later this summer look for a iPhone specific versions and an Android version.

Direct to LeafSnap Web Site

Direct to LeafSnap App (Free)

Complete Announcement and Intro Video

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.