What manuals and texts cannot do the iPhone can! Coming soon, there will be an application (“app”) provided by Leaf Snap that will allow identification of trees using leaves, the phone’s camera and an image recognition system. As most botanists know using leaves along can be a problem, resulting in the wrong identification. The application designers have addressed this concern somewhat by providing a list of suspect species, ranked based on the photo and input data.
The program was developed by research biologists from the Maryland/D.C area and two computer programmers. The system is sparse now (only ~150 woody plants), but they plan to populate the app throughout the year. Eventually they plan to have all native trees in North America as well as many invasive species as well. You can read more about this group at //Leafsnaps.com.
This news was gleaned from Botanical Society of America news items 2011.