Pl@ntNet, the plant recognition application created by Montpellier researchers

What's the name of this flower? The answer is in your memory, or on Pl@ntNet, a plant recognition application created by researchers at Montpellier. It lists 30,000 species!

What's the name of this plant? For several years now, thanks to the work of researchers in Montpellier, your telephone has been able to give you the answer via the Pl@ntNet application. This technological innovation has won the Inria prize, awarded by the French Academy of Sciences.

Pl@ntNet is a digital tool for identifying plants from photos: users take a snapshot of the plant or flower they are interested in and send it to the application downloaded onto their cell phone: the answer is now immediate.
Developed since 2009 in Montpellier by CIRAD, INRA, INRIA and IRD, in collaboration with the Tela Botanica association and supported by Agropolis Fondation, this application was launched in 2013.

Its aim: to identify tens of thousands of plants worldwide.

The success of a participatory application

Three years after its launch in 2016, this tool dedicated to the recognition of wild plants had already been downloaded more than 2 million times on smartphones!

A year later, in 2017, the app had been downloaded in over 170 countries, its dataset included over 545,000 images relating to around 11,000 species.

This popular success is due not only to the fact that it's free, but also to the fact that the application is open to all: you don't need to be a professional botanist to take part, as anyone can contribute to the site by sending in their own photos of identified plants.

Many plant lovers, both in the Hérault region and around the world, have taken to the game. Over the years, the batch of images has grown and the plant recognition algorithm has improved.

10-year award from the French Academy of Sciences

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the collaborative platform has been awarded the Inria - Académie des sciences - Dassault Systèmes Innovation Prize, which recognizes innovation and major advances in digital science and technology.

"Pl@ntNet is without doubt one of the most important technological innovations of recent years."

Inria-Académie des sciences

"It is the fruit of an extraordinary scientific journey, at the crossroads of digital sciences, life sciences and citizen sciences". states the Inria-Académie des sciences website.

According to the site, more than ten million people use it worldwide, including hundreds of thousands of farmers and land managers.

20,000 euros for 6 winning researchers

Alexis Joly, Inria Sophia Antipolis Méditerranée Research Director and member of the Université Montpellier/CNRS team, is delighted:

"This prize is one of the most prestigious in France! It's a great reward after 10 years of work.

Alexis Joly, Inria Research Director

But what counts most for this researcher, who is one of the six winners sharing this innovation prize, is the fact that this application contributes to environmental education, firstly because it is used by a large number of teachers in the classroom and on nature outings with their pupils, but also and above all because it helps combat the use of phytosanitary products:

"It's useful in agro-ecology: when we identify a crop auxiliary, a plant beneficial to crop growth or protection, practices evolve."

Congratulations to the Pl@ntNet team for this initiative and award!