March 1, 2013 (Vol. 33, No. 5)
Strong Points: Great image quality, many images per species
Weak Points: No text descriptions to accompany photos
Learning to identify plants is a “snap” with LeafSnap, the first in a series of electronic field guides developed as a collaboration among researchers at Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution. The app contains a large collection of plants found in the northeast (it will eventually include plants found throughout the continental U.S.) that are alphabetically arranged for easy browsing. Each entry is comprised of a number of images showing the leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, and bark, when applicable. Users have the option to download high-resolution images. At present, the app does not contain any written material to accompany the photos, so this app is best used for identification (as opposed to educational) purposes. If location services is enabled, users can use the “nearby species” function, as well as submit photos of leaves for identification.