Recognizing wild plants via app

On a hiking tour, discovering a beautiful flower and no destination book at hand? The free Flora Incognita app uses artificial intelligence to identify wild plants quickly, easily and accurately. It is designed to raise public awareness of the importance of biodiversity.

A smartphone is pointed at a plant. With the help of an app, the smartphone examines the plant.
Fast plant identification via app (© Flora Incognita project)

Family outing in the nature. "Look what a great flower! What is its name?", the daughter asks. Although the parents have seen the flower many times before, they can't give it a name. The mother photographs it on her smartphone, and a few seconds later the name is displayed to her. In addition, she receives further information about the flower that is worth knowing. The plant rally begins.

The Flora Incognita app makes this quick determination possible. It can be used to identify almost all flowers, shrubs, grasses, ferns and trees native to Central European latitudes. The AI-based app uses image processing and pattern recognition methods that are also used for automated face recognition. Currently, it enables the automatic determination of images of more than 4,800 plant species.

The Flora Incognita apps are developed by the Technical University of Ilmenau and the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry Jena. Funding is provided by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation with funds from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, the Thuringian Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Nature Conservation and the Foundation for Nature Conservation Thuringia. The app has been recognized as an official project of the "UN Decade of Biodiversity" and has been downloaded more than 1.2 million times since its launch.

With three images to the result

Girl photographs a plant with her cell phone (© Flora Incognita project)
Plants can be identified with just a few clicks (© Flora Incognita project)

And this is how the Flora Incognita app works: The user takes up to three photos from different perspectives via smartphone - first the flower, then the leaf and finally the plant in its full size. The app determines the plant in seconds - and at the same time provides a comprehensive profile with information such as characteristics, distribution or protection status of the plant.

Users can create and export their own plant lists in the app. This makes the app particularly interesting for digital educational offerings. The feedback the developers receive from schools, universities and other educational institutions is positive - making plant knowledge available to everyone.  

Download the Flora Incognita app:

Application facts

Technology field
Data Management and Analysis
Image Recognition and Understanding
Sensors and Communication
Human-Computer Interaction and Assistance Systems
Application industry
Energy and Environment
Field of application
  • Miscellaneous
Value-added activity
Research and Development [R&D]
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)
Bundesamt für Naturschutz (BfN)
Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, nukleare Sicherheit und Verbraucherschutz (BMUV)
Thüringer Ministerium für Umwelt, Energie und Naturschutz (TMUEN)
AI Developers

Technische Universität Ilmenau

University/Research Institution

AI Development partner

Max-Planck Institut für Biogeochemie