It’s that time of year when we settle into summer and start taking advantage of some time off. Perfect for going on picnics, meandering hikes and exploring our beautiful country’s vegetation. But how often do we admire a tree – it’s flowers, its unusual leaves or its spectacular size and shape – and not know its name? How awesome would it be to quickly identify it, learn more about it and share the knowledge with your family and friends?

Nowadays we are spoilt for choice in accessing information and the biggest challenge is being able to sort the accurate from the incorrect. That’s where high quality, research-based smartphone and tablet applications (apps) offer the most value. With a couple of taps you can sound like an expert, thanks to the experts who have developed an app that assists in the identification of trees.

A team of ardent pioneers, including Val Thomas, Dr Robbie (Ernest) Robison and Herman Van den Berg, have made South Africa’s vast array of tree species the subject of the award-winning app, TheTreeApp South Africa.

It is beautifully illustrated and constructed allowing for easy navigation. It only requires Wi-Fi once, to download the app. Thereafter it won’t require any more data connection for its usage. An initial thorough going-over of the ‘Help’ section, will make the tree identification experience a lot more engaging. It is highly absorbing so prepare to have to drag yourself out of the garden if you need to get any holiday chores done.

Using the phone’s location setting, the app offers up options that are relevant to any specific area within South Africa, within a range of a 12,5 km radius, to help the user narrow down the possible species. This aspect of the app is most helpful, considering that, in total it features more than 1,100 species including 979 indigenous trees and 135 invasive species.

Identification can be made using leaves, flowers, fruit, growth, form, woody features, thorns or latex. The number of potential options is reduced with every identifier until a positive identification can be made. The structure and terminology are designed to appeal equally to the layman (being available in all 11 official languages) as well to those more familiar with the Latin terms and scientific information.

To find out more about this useful app visit: