Leafsnap UK app

Using the Leafsnap UK app to identify a tree from its leaf

Key features

  • identification guide to 156 UK tree species
  • leaf recognition technology
  • more than 2,000 beautiful high-res images of leaves, flowers, fruit and other tree features
  • mini fact files on every species
  • content researched and checked by Museum botanists

Identify trees with help from our free iPhone app.

Leafsnap UK uses visual recognition software to identify tree species from photos of their leaves.

Identify a tree in two easy steps

1. Photograph a leaf on a white background. The app will use leaf recognition technology to create a list of species it could belong to, starting with the best matches.

2. Confirm the tree's identity by checking the high-res images and text for the potential matches. You can zoom in to examine images in detail.

To label your leaf for future reference, simply return to the list and swipe left over the correct species.

Snap It! function

The high-res images and text are always available to browse, but your phone needs to be connected to the internet for the leaf recognition feature to work. If you've got no signal, use the Snap It! function to take photos to identify later.

Leafsnap UK is the latest in the series of EO Wilson Award-winning Leafsnap apps.

It was developed by the Museum in collaboration with US Leafsnap teams from: 

Leafsnap UK was supported by:

Tips to help you get the best results

Leafsnap UK uses cutting-edge visual recognition technology to match the shape of your leaf to thousands of leaf images in its database. Leaves, light conditions and photo style can vary, so here's how to get the best results.

1. Look for a leaf that is representative of others on the tree - one that is as flat and undamaged as possible, particularly around the edges.

2. Pick the leaf carefully, with the leafstalk (petiole) still attached.

3. Place the leaf face up or face down on a white background - a smooth piece of paper or cloth is best. The flatter the leaf, the better.

4. Take a photograph:

  • from directly above the leaf, with your iPhone parallel to it
  • outside in even light - shade is better than sunshine, and avoid dappled light
  • with as little shadow around the leaf as possible

The leaf should be as big as possible without touching the edges of the screen. Make sure that:

  • the background is entirely white and a white border surrounds the leaf
  • no hands, fingers or anything else are visible in the picture
  • the leaf is in focus, particularly its edges or margins
  • you photograph the whole leaf rather than individual leaflets

Some leaves are made up of leaflets (which are leaf-like structures) attached to the leafstalk. The leaf of the common ash, Fraxinus excelsior, is a good example.

Photo of a compound leaf

Leaf of the common ash


No matches?

If you don't find a match for your leaf, it's possible that it hasn't yet been included in the database. There are more species of tree in the UK than the 156 featured in this version of Leafsnap UK. More species will be added to the next version.

About the Museum team

Museum botanists working in the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity used their expert knowledge to choose the species for Leafsnap UK and collect the thousands of leaf, flower, fruit, cone, seed and bark specimens featured. They also researched and wrote the descriptive text for each tree included.

The Museum team:

Dr John Tweddle, Head of the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity, supervised the UK scientific team.

Dr Fred Rumsey, lead botanist at the centre, selected the UK species content, wrote the plant profiles, verified and collected plants.

Kath Castillo was the principal field biologist and collector of plant specimens.

Kate Coss, Elisabetta Scialabba and Dr Della Hopkins assisted with the collection of plant specimens.

Museum photographer Kevin Webb took the high-res images included in the app.


We are grateful to the following organisations for providing access to their sites:

  • The Royal Parks, London
  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Surrey
  • Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Gloucestershire

The origins of Leafsnap

The idea for Leafsnap came about when Prof Peter Belhumeur of Columbia University and Prof David Jacobs of the University of Maryland realised that the techniques they had developed for face recognition systems could be applied to species identification.

In collaboration with Dr John Kress, Chief Botanist at the Smithsonian Institution, they designed and built a similar system for plant species.

Find out more at Leafsnap.com.

Download Leafsnap UK for free