Annotations: How Loved are the Most Common U.S.A. Plant Species?

I thought it would be interesting to see what we’ve been annotating - especially in light of the recent annotation updates. So, I took the top 50 most-observed research-grade (non-fern, non-conifer) plant species in the U.S.A., and looked up what percentage of observations for each species had “Flowers and Fruits” annotations.

Hopefully, this will inspire us to further annotate some of these species. Personally, when I’m learning to ID a new species, I especially appreciate the annotated observations!

In addition to certain species getting special attention from a few users, I’m sure how obvious the standard physical characteristics of any given species are impacts our desire to annotate. Still, It’s kind of interesting that, for example, we’ll happily annotate American Beautyberry (23%), but Eastern Redbud (8%) can take a hike. Anyway, the full details are in the table below. Enjoy!

Species Observations Annotated Percentage Annotated
Common Reed 43393 14859 34.24%
Lesser Celandine 40629 13471 33.16%
Redstem Stork’s-Bill 42961 14096 32.81%
Partridgeberry 42427 12568 29.62%
Bloodroot 56531 14769 26.13%
Striped Wintergreen 43723 10754 24.60%
American Beautyberry 39515 9138 23.13%
Jack in the Pulpit 54931 11405 20.76%
Virginia Springbeauty 57531 11749 20.42%
Red Deadnettle 56695 9436 16.64%
Ground Ivy 62794 9653 15.37%
Dame’s Rocket 38215 5871 15.36%
Henbit Deadnettle 39321 6030 15.34%
Mock Strawberry 43888 6448 14.69%
Solomon’s Plume 51815 7424 14.33%
American Pokeweed 93004 12469 13.41%
Common Jewelweed 58301 7467 12.81%
Red Maple 44965 5757 12.80%
Amur Honeysuckle 41991 5187 12.35%
Garlic Mustard 78030 9395 12.04%
Red Clover 52271 6268 11.99%
Carolina Horsenettle 39030 4615 11.82%
White Snakeroot 53756 6270 11.66%
Japanese Honeysuckle 42663 4505 10.56%
California Poppy 49042 5171 10.54%
Common Selfheal 50872 5359 10.53%
Common Milkweed 78700 8265 10.50%
Wild Carrot 53843 5445 10.11%
Creosote Bush 76100 7530 9.89%
White Clover 75541 7441 9.85%
Chicory 48160 4670 9.70%
Eastern Skunk Cabbage 47183 4513 9.56%
Tree-of-Heaven 41195 3931 9.54%
Multiflora Rose 51385 4832 9.40%
Mayapple 72677 6739 9.27%
Common Yarrow 81017 7244 8.94%
Common Dandelion 47121 4035 8.56%
Ghost Pipe 51472 4069 7.91%
Ribwort Plantain 38725 3023 7.81%
Eastern Redbud 47833 3677 7.69%
Tulip Tree 54549 3617 6.63%
Sassafras 43653 2460 5.64%
Great Mullein 73131 3900 5.33%
Pacific Poison Oak 37838 2008 5.31%
Box Elder 56681 2945 5.20%
Eastern Poison Ivy 85813 3862 4.50%
American Sweetgum 55219 2421 4.38%
American Beech 59526 2185 3.67%
Virginia Creeper 71328 2503 3.51%
Common Mugwort 40734 1120 2.75%

Interesting. It would be neat to know what aspects are most commonly annotated, too. I’m more likely to annotate something that’s a bit unusual, so if most of the observations are in flower (ex. roses), then I make sure to annotate the one I see in fruit.


American Beautyberry has kind of generic leaves and so it’s probably rarely posted without flowers or it’s distinctive fruit, and vegetative shrubs rarely identified if they are posted. The flowers of Eastern Redbud are conspicuous, of course, but the leaves are unusual, different from the rest of the plants in its habitat, and therefore it stands out and therefore it gets posted and correctly identified even when vegetative. Relevant? I think so. I hypothesize that people are more likely to annotate a plant when it has flowers or fruit than when it doesn’t.


I suspect you’re right. Now we just need to annotate 100% of these species to see whether people are indeed more likely to anno… wait a minute… :grin:

1 Like

Yes. I too had a moment of thinking about how to test my hypothesis . . . no, I won’t.

1 Like

Really, though, questions about what captivates people are fascinating - It’d be cool, for example, to be able to figure out the median number of photos submitted per observation for each species. I reckon some species get many more photos than others - and not because folks are uncertain regarding what’s necessary to ID, or some other factor, but simply because folks like the species.

1 Like

Other identifiers and I try to get people to post lots of photos of each grass, sedge, willow, and other groups because those species are hard to ID and we need details. Of course, most people don’t post lots, so that’s one reason we have problems.

1 Like

Did you run an API query to get this data, comradejon? I can’t see a way to filter for attributes on the Explore page. Looking at a taxon page (e.g. for one of my favorites, Partridgeberry) I can see the Flowers and Fruits attributes as subgraphs on the Seasonality graph, but I can’t get a convenient total.

I try to conscientiously add these attributes when I’m confirming Partridgeberry IDs, because persistent fruits are one of the notable features of this species. This time of year, we sometimes get photos with the trifecta: buds, flowers, and last year’s fruit all in the same photo!


Hey @larry216! I enjoy ID’ing Partridgeberry, and I’ve noticed you’re very good about annotating it - much appreciated!

No, I don’t really have any experience with API queries - and you’re right there’s no obvious way to filter on the Explore page.

But - messing around on the Identify page I figured out that filtering for “Flowers and Fruits” adds “&term_id=12” to the query. So then I went back to the Explore page and added it to my query on that page. Like this:

Then I just typed everything I wanted into a spreadsheet and went from there.

Have fun poking around! It’s not a top-50 most-observed U.S.A. plant species, so it’s not on my list, but following the link above you’ll see that some folks have done an excellent job of annotating, for example, Common Pawpaw. It’s the most-annotated plant species in the U.S.A., and with almost 98% of observations annotated, its graph looks pretty cool!

1 Like