Black Spot Leaf Area Calculator, version 1.0 Beta

Black Spot is a free stand alone software and method to estimate leaf area from images of leaves captured using any standard flatbed scanner. This easy to use software allows the user to batch process a large number of samples across multiple species with minimal user input.


Downloading and using Black Spot

Download Black Spot and user manual (

Download user manual

The download contains a 7zip folder with a readily executable file for Black Spot, a detailed user manual and the python script.


Black Spot does not require any installation and is ready to use as soon as you unzip the downloaded file. Currently the software only works on Microsoft Windows operating systems. However, Linux and Mac users can run the software using a windows emulator (e.g. Wine and VirtualBox).
Alternatively, you can also run Black Spot using the python code. For this you will need a python 2.6 or 2.7 installation as well as the following modules:
Python Imaging Library (PIL):

Contribute to Black Spot development

Black Spot is still a beta stage software. In its current form, we have tested it extensively with HP and Canon scanners. As a user, if you do encounter large errors on specific scanner makes or models, or have suggestions on how we could improve Black Spot’s performance, please do get in touch with us.

Contact us

For user support, reporting bugs and other queries please write to:

blackspot [at] ncbs [dot] res [dot] in

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Black Spot Leaf Area Calculator version 1.0 beta. Copyright (c) 2013, Varun Varma and Anand M Osuri.

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version. This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. 
See the GNU General Public License for more details.


Varma, V & Osuri, A.M. (2013). Black Spot: a platform for automated and rapid estimation of leaf area from scanned images. Plant Ecology 214: 1529-1534. DOI 10.1007/s11258-013-0273-z [link]
Varma, V. and Osuri, A.M. (2013). Black Spot Leaf Area Calculator, version 1.0 Beta. National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, India.(


We acknowledge Yadugiri VT, Chengappa SK, Vijay Kumar S, Siddharth Iyengar, Rutuja Dhamale, Priyanka Runwal, Atul Joshi and Harinandan PV for volunteering time to collect field samples, manually process images and test out versions of the software. We are grateful to Mahesh Sankaran, Jayashree Ratnam and Fiona Savory for several useful discussions. We thank the Rufford Small Grants Foundation and National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) for funding fellowships, fieldwork and equipment. We acknowledge NCBS, and in particular Prasanta Baruah, for helping create the Black Spot webpage and user support systems.