Field test: Leafsnap app

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Leafsnap app (free) is “an electronic field guide for tree and plant species.” See the video, “Introducing Leafsnap” for more information. Leafsnap is available in the Apple iTunes App Store.

I field tested Leafsnap recently. I selected several trees located on the grounds of Mount Vernon Unitarian Church in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. One the trees in the test group is an old Black Locust tree. The gallery (shown above) features a photograph of a Black Locust tree leaf taken using Leafsnap’s “Snap It!” feature (No. 1), a series of screen captures from Leafsnap (No. 2 – 4), and a couple of photos of the tree taken using iPhone’s built-in Camera app (No. 5 – 6). The screen captures illustrate the process used by Leafsnap to identify the Black Locust tree based upon the outline of one of its leaves. Notice the Five-lined Skink lizard in photo No. 6.

When Leafsnap’s “Snap It!” feature is able to connect to remote servers via either 3G or Wi-Fi, the automatic identification process works very well; when Leafsnap is unable to establish a connection, you’re dead in the water and going nowhere. Hopefully the problem establishing a server connection has been resolved in the latest version of Leafsnap. Overall, Leafsnap is a “must-have” app for educators, gardeners, and natural science enthusiasts.

Tech Tips: For trees with compound leaves (such as Black Locust), be careful to shoot the entire leaf. Leaves should be photographed in situ for accurate geolocation. Photos saved to the Camera Roll from Leafsnap’s built-in camera (“Snap It!”) are not geotagged. For this reason, you may want to take one or more photos using iPhone’s Camera app. (See the location of the Black Walnut tree, derived from the EXIF/IPTC info for photo No. 5.)

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