Are garden weeds wild or cultivated?

We’re not talking about sense, we’re talking about iNat’s definition of “cultivated.”

There are several self-seeded trees in my garden, just a few inches tall, that I plan to remove next week. They are not cultivated. If I choose to leave one and tend it, it will be cultivated. There is one self-seeded tree that I attempt to remove every year but never succeed. It is not cultivated.

If I fall asleep for 20 years my garden will be full of not-cultivated trees. If I cut them all down except one that one will be cultivated.

1 Like

That’s right. I use only the Android app. When I add an observation there’s a tick box for “It is captive or cultivated,” no mention of wild. The data quality attributes (which have no visual indication of even existing on the app and which I found by chance) show the organism is “wild” if I don’t mark it as cultivated.

As a gardener I would say any dandelion is a wild flower, in the sense that it is a naturally-occurring native plant, regardless of whether it is self-seeded or deliberately sown and cultivated. My garden has many wild flowers that I’ve grown from seeds, bulbs or nursery-grown plants.

But the question is about whether a plant is cultivated or not according to iNat’s definition.

Not cutting one tree by itself doesn’t make it cultivated, if you have the intention to have it stay and be your own tree, maybe doing soemthing to it, it’s a different story. Otherwise you can go to forest, cut a bunch of trees and then call all others cultivated.


I politely disagree. If someone is tending it, it’s cultivated. Or if you want to honor its wild origins, it’s captive. If you’re caring for it, it’s not wild. Watering is caring. Weeding around it is caring. A pipevine came up in my lawn. It was wild at first, but when I moved rocks around it so it doesn’t get mowed, it became captive/cultivated.

The armadillos in my yard are wild. I do nothing to help them, other than not using weed killers to kill the grubs they eat. I even filled in their hole when I rebuilt my deck, but they laughed at that.

1 Like

If you did not plant it - then for iNat it is Wild.

If you harvested seed to plant, then for iNat it would be ‘Cultivated’

1 Like

I had another ID of this same species of weed (a whisk fern) on another observation, this time growing in with a potted plant inside a house. The observer said she didn’t know how the weed got into her potted plant, which she has had indoors for years. This week the founder of iNat came by and commented the weed should be marked cultivated. Ouch. I guess I can’t argue…

1 Like

perhaps they didn’t realise that the whisk fern was not the plant that was cultivated?

No, it was clear. I would link the observation but I think the forum frowns on that.

1 Like

Is the species known to occur in captivity? If so, are there “parents” visible nearby? If so, is the individual separated or showing pattern of naturalization (e.g. coming up in the sidewalk cracks on the other side of the road, growing down the creek). If yes, this is about the limit of which I’d apply wild to a garden plant. These are all questions that are important to consider in terms of determining an observation like this.

If it is a species in captivity and the parents are not visible, then it is up to the observer to determine whether it could be a plausible “waif” or possibly planted by human hand.

However if the species is not known to occur in captivity, then it should always be given benefit of the doubt. Weeds in botanic gardens are still wild. Weeds in a nursery pot are still wild but I can understand why some people might consider them too ‘captive’ to count.

1 Like

but, the observer decides - so you can explain - a wild volunteer - I did not plant it.

1 Like

It was someone else’s observation and she didn’t vote either way. But I voted it wild because that was my opinion. Currently there’s one vote for wild (mine) and one vote for not, which makes it default to wild.


This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.