Are botanical garden & fish ladder observations allowed?

I just observed Amorphophallus titanum in recent post-bloom. Very cool. I tend to be a wild-only observer but this was amazing. I know it’s cultivated (as is a relative in same botanical garden). If I note it’s cultivated (give attribution) would this be allowed? Thanks. (BTW never used the Forum so hope this works.)


Sure, that’s why you can mark captive organisms, as long as you do that you can post anything you want!


Interesting question. It seems like many if not most people consider iNaturalist as a social media platform to record observations in the wild. A botanical garden is human-made and full of non-native species. There are ecosystems thriving in botanical gardens without any support by humans. Many species showcased within botanical gardens have gained a footing in non-garden areas. I think of some people who have perspectives that view only pristine old-growth forests as “really wild.” A hierarchy of sorts goes from wilderness areas to preserves to wildlife management areas to national parks, to state parks and lands, and then to multiple use local parks. Plenty of reservoirs have native fish and thousands of stocked “trophy” fish. Where is the line? Mark as captive if it fits that criteria. Just took a look at “rhododendron” and there are 309 species listed. I wonder how many of the 124,341 observations are listed as captive and should be listed as captive.

Fish ladders seem to simply offer an observation platform in a river. If life in a river is considered worthy of iNaturalist observations, why document a fish caught on a hook and not a species swimming upstream to complete its lifecycle (and seen going through a fish ladder)?

I take a “why not” approach as overall, species diversity, distribution, and abundance may be considered why viewing life through iNaturalist. Mark as captive if desired.


I’ve seen a lot of debate over this topic. From what I gather, you should mark organisms such as cultivated plants in a botanical garden as cultivated, as well as pets captive. If you happen to find anything on such plants, like a parasite or insect, this can be left as wild. However, there are a lot of undefined boundaries to this whole “captive” thing. For example, a feral cat or chicken should be left wild, while I am uncertain of a wild caught animal that is now in captivity. As for the fish ladder, those fish are totally wild, they’re basically just passing through a man-made structure. It’s like finding a spider on your wall - it’s still wild (Unless it’s your pet spider and you put it there). For example, I found a cockatiel flying around my neighborhood. This is not a native species and is likely an escaped pet. If I make an observation of it, it should be marked wild and it can be labeled in the description, or using the preferred method, denote it as “Escapee/Non-established” in the observation fields.

Just a side note: Uploading observations of captive organisms is totally fine and a good way to get something interesting identified, but keep in mind that it is possible local IDers may be unfamiliar with exotic organisms and you may struggle to get a proper ID. You can always @ mention someone though.

Assuming you mean the genus Rhododendron, there are over 65,000 observations marked as captive, but of course I can’t be sure of how many should be marked captive.


Thank you. A really thoughtful & thought provoking response. The multitude gradations that we have created from micro - to macro habitats that I had not appreciated as much before now. Some really gray areas, as you say. Like when I use a light to attract moths, I feel a little like it’s cheating; creating an artificial construct of the natural world (their moon) to be able to attract & observe them. Well . . . I had a great time seeing that Corpse Flower today. iNat left it “Casual” which kind of takes the umph out of my question, alas. Thank you!

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Thank you! I did mark it as cultivated, the botanical Corpse Flower that I saw today. Totally amazing! But iNat decided to mark it as Casual. In reading the flower’s profile, it still seems important that I uploaded its observation as a lot of institutions are trying to learn about its cultivation. And I totally agree with you, but wanted back-up thoughts on the wildness of fish ladder travelers. Just a personal preference, I’d much rather observe them fighting the current in search of breeding sights, than caught on a hook. At least this time of year ;-).




Captive/cultivated always are moved to casual by iNat default, that’s why.
sounds like a super cool observation though! I can’t say I’ve ever seen one!


No. Not what iNat is for.

so long as you mark it as captive, cultivated plant specimens are a-okay to upload!! as for the fish ladder, those observations would be wild - the fish are not captive and are just using the ladder to pass through.


Like other people are saying, there’s nothing wrong with posting images of captive organisms so long as they are marked captive. Wild fish using a fish ladder is also completely fine to be marked wild.


Yes, you can add them as captive as many others pointed. It can even be useful as they can provide good quality photos for the Computer Vision training dataset. It’s also useful for comparison with wild specimens as sometimes plant is so rarely recorded in the wild that no observation is present on iNat.
Also it was very useful for me as well! Sometimes specimens are misslabelled in the botanical garden and experts of the genus can correct them. This happened to me on this observation. In other cases the label is missing and it can help adding one to the specimen.


Your reasoning makes so much sense - to help the CV correctly ID wild specimens (especially when so rarely observed), assuming the botanical ID is correct.

And fascinating that a botanical garden specimen could be (re)correctly identified. So much we don’t know, especially from areas difficult to access &/or not having a lot of observers.

Thank you…

A fish photo’d while climbing a fish ladder is as wild as any wild bird sitting on a fence or nesting on a house. Unless the fish is stocked, but I’d probably still consider it wild.

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Whether it is a formal gardens & parks, school grounds, or our own yards I consider most plants Cultivated unless there is evidence to the contrary. State and National parks are usually a combination. Escaped from cultivation/invasive is more squishy in my view. Documenting invasives has lots of research and policy potential. But problems occur when there is no designation at all by the person submitting if they are new - a training issue. I don’t confirm those anymore.

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Yes, I’m big into annotating invasives. I have to deal with constantly :grimacing:. Thank you.

I started my naturalist mission as being strictly a fauna person and did not want to learn much about flora. I am currently posting more cultivated plants than I normally have in the past. The reason behind this is I am taking a Master Melitollogy course (Native Bees) and we are required to record the host plants for the bees. Having good examples of cultivated plants on iNaturalist are quite helpful to compare to when these bees cannot or do not forage on native plants. Invasive, introduced, cultivated, nurtured…these plants all may be necessary to fill gaps in lost habitat if not even for a two week time period between desired blooming cycles. My yard currently hosts more than 34 known species of native bees (and many more as they are yet to be identified beyond genus) - most of my yard is currently introduced plants and I am working on introducing more native plants as we cycle out of the cultivars.


I have 377 planted plant observations. One is the first record on iNat, many are to track phenology, and others are for host plant associations for galls and pollinators


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