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How to Use Your Phone to Identify Plants - Free, No Apps.

Celandine Poppy, Poisonous plant I found while walking.
Once I discovered this trick with my phone, the ability to connect my spiritual practice to the direct environment around me became so much easier. Walks with my niece became full of discovery, and I have learned so much about the so-called weeds that grow easily around me – and how I can use them in my practice.

Available on both Apple and Android, though the method may be a bit different, you can identify plants and flowers using only your phone's camera.

Though it is a bit finicky, it has shown me many amazing things.

On Apple:

Open your camera app, and take a picture of the plant you want to identify. I’ve learned it’s best to get an image of the flower with the stem and leaf if you can, and that leaves alone usually don’t get an identification.

One you take a picture of the plant, open your photo library, and swipe up. You should see a line of text that says “Look Up – Plant” with a leaf icon. Tap that, and you should see “Siri Knowledge” and “similar web images” that identify the plant.

If the option isn’t available, make sure your phone is updated. If it is, then your picture is probably blurry, does not contain a flower or fruit that the phone can identify, or includes too many differing plants. Take a picture anyway and consult a handbook or guide instead.

On Android:

A little more complicated, this method requires the Google app. When you see the search bar, you should also see an icon of a microphone and a camera. Tap the camera icon.

You can either choose a photo already in your camera roll, or to take a photo through the Google app.

Not only has this just been a fun thing to do on walks, it has deepened my practice, and taught me a thing or two about safety.

I now know which plants to steer the young child and our dogs away from while walking, since I’m now aware which ones are poisonous – this doesn’t always mean bad, as many “poisonous” herbs can be used safely in spell work or medicine (which research and safety practices in place, please). Still, these herbs are more dangerous around a child or animal.

Next, it has led me down such interesting and unique paths of research. While the tiny violets that take over lawns in early spring are a popular plant and the spiritual associations and herbalism are easy to find, not all plants are like that. I’ve learned to create my own connection and associations to plants that aren’t so easily-searchable when it comes to “witchcraft” or “magical” uses. Thus, my practice has become much more personal and full of discovery.

I’ve also learned more about invasive plants. In my area, garlic mustard is an invasive plant I grew up seeing all around the forest floors. The wonderful thing about invasive plants is that you can take as much as you want from the surrounding environment (usually) and not harm native species that support local animals and the general ecosystem.

Overall, it is a easy, free way to start getting to know the plants in your area, and a quick intro into herbalism and researching plants, herbs, and so-called weeds. It will fill you with practical knowledge, and force you to form your own connections to your immediate environment.

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