Flora Incognita honored with special prize at Thuringian Environmental Award 2019

The Thuringian Environmental Prize, awarded by the Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Nature Conservation, recognizes the commitment for a habitable environment and healthy nature. In Thuringia, the prize is awarded for outstanding achievements and dedication to environmental protection that contribute to ecological improvements in the context of sustainable development.

The high-ranking, 12-member jury selected 2 special prizes from among the applications received in addition to the prize winners from outside academic research. The Flora Incognita research group of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC) was honored with this prize for its app for plant identification.

Dr. Jana Wäldchen, head of the research group at MPI-BGC, together with Prof. (JP) Dr. Patrick Mäder, TU Ilmenau, accepted the award from Minister Anja Siegesmund in the Jena Climate Pavillon. „After almost 5 years of intensive development work, we have created a widely used and popularly accepted app for automatic plant identification,“ says Patrick Mäder, „but we want to continue to make continuous improvements for the users.“
„In the long run, we as researchers can use the data from the Flora Incognita App to make many other decipherings: When do which species bloom? How strongly do the traits of the individual plants vary? What is the relationship to climate change and land use patterns?“
emphasized Jana Wäldchen.

Flora Incognita vs. Flora Capture

Our project „Flora Incognita“ for many ( and more ) people represents the almost automatic species identification of wild plants. We are grateful for the positive feedback, but of course there are always some uncertainties. For example, the areas of use of the two apps: Flora Incognita and Flora Capture

Flora Incognita – Automatically identify species

With Flora Incognita, you can automatically identify a plant in just a few moments. Depending on the type and quality of your observation, the app needs 1-3 images. You can confirm that the species is indeed identified or select another one from a list of suggestions. An internet connection is required for a determination: Either via mobile data on the go or later at home, where you can also select your photos from the gallery.


Mäder, P., Boho, D., Rzanny, M., Seeland, M., Wittich, H. C., Deggelmann, A., & Wäldchen, J. (2021). The flora incognita app–interactive plant species identification. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.13611

Flora Capture – Document plants and contribute to the project

The aim of this app is to collect plant images from given perspectives.  These provide, among other things, the data basis of the identification function of the Flora Incognita App. More so: it offers you the opportunity to collect plants without extracting them from nature.

Its distinctive feature is that a capture observation is taken from one and the same individual. This creates a true understanding of the variety in size, shape and color of plant parts in different degrees of flowering and maturity. This data ensures that Flora Incognita can reliably identify even difficult species.

The combination of flowers and leaf images in our database enables a species-specific identification of plants even when an identification should not be possible. Here you see different types of buttercup. An identification solemnly based on the flower would hardly be possible:

So the next time you are happy that in many cases even plants without flowers are recognized correctly, this is mainly possible due to the Flora Capture observations that we have already collected.

Maybe you could make an active contribution to our project from time to time? Each Flora Capture observation is evaluated and, if possible, identified by a team of experts. This manual process may be fast if the key features are clearly visible and the species is one of the current species list (~4800 species). If not, it will take a little longer and sometimes be impossible: For species hybrids, ornamental plants or photographs taken far away from the Central European flora. Flora Capture images can be taken without an internet connection and then uploaded to our server via WLAN at home.


Boho, D., Rzanny, M., Wäldchen, J., Nitsche, F., Deggelmann, A., Wittich, H. C., … & Mäder, P. (2020). Flora Capture: a citizen science application for collecting structured plant observations. BMC bioinformatics, 21(1), 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12859-020-03920-9