Plant species classification using flower images - a comparative study of local feature representations
Steady improvements of image description methods induced a growing interest in imagebased plant species classification, a task vital to the study of biodiversity and ecological sensitivity. Various techniques have been proposed for general object classification over the past years and several of them have already been studied for plant species classification. However, results of these studies are selective in the evaluated steps of a classification pipeline, in the utilized datasets for evaluation, and in the compared baseline methods. No study is available that evaluates the main competing methods for building an image representation on the same datasets allowing for generalized findings regarding flower-based plant species classification. The aim of this paper is to comparatively evaluate methods, method combinations, and their parameters towards classification accuracy. The investigated methods span from detection, extraction, fusion, pooling, to encoding of local features for quantifying shape and color information of flower images. We selected the flower image datasets Oxford Flower 17 and Oxford Flower 102 as well as our own Jena Flower 30 dataset for our experiments. Findings show large differences among the various studied techniques and that their wisely chosen orchestration allows for high accuracies in species classification. We further found that true local feature detectors in combination with advanced encoding methods yield higher classification results at lower computational costs compared to commonly used dense sampling and spatial pooling methods. Color was found to be an indispensable feature for high classification results, especially while preserving spatial correspondence to gray-level features. In result, our study provides a comprehensive overview of competing techniques and the implications of their main parameters for flowerbased plant species classification.