There has been a recent explosion in development of image recognition technology and its application to automated plant identification, so it is timely to consider its potential for field botany. Nine free apps or websites for automated plant identification and suitable for use on mobile phones or tablet computers in the field were tested on a disparate set of 38 images of plants or parts of plants chosen from the higher plant flora of Britain and Ireland. There were large differences in performance with the best apps identifying >50 % of samples tested to genus or better. Although the accuracy is good for some of the top-rated apps, for any quantitative biodiversity study or for ecological surveys, there remains a need for validation by experts or against conventional floras. Nevertheless, the better-performing apps should be of great value to beginners and amateurs and may usefully stimulate interest in plant identification and nature. Potential uses of automated image recognition plant identification apps are discussed and recommendations made for their future use.