Create a Foragable or Edible Plants search option

I am a forager, and having a reference map and database for edible plants, trees, mushrooms and fruits would be invaluable.
Is there a way to make that a search option?

@jessalynnmclain Welcome to the Forum! I approved your Feature Request for its discussion value at least.

But I’ll say up front that my guess is that the site would not want to incur the potential liability of providing this kind of search capability, whatever it’s technical feasibility might be. That’s just my personal opinion though…


Yup, from an “official” standpoint (or at least one from site staff) we are not interested in communicating information about edibility because we don’t want people eating something poisonous because iNat said it was edible, regardless of how we sourced that information. There are also lots of other sites more focused on foraging that are probably better tools for this kind of thing, e.g. (I can’t speak to the accuracy of anything on that site either, just one of the first search hits I found).


Imagine the trouble if someone eats something inedible because they misidentified it, Most edible plant web sites have a special place on the listing that describes an edible species that shows anything non-edible that’s easily confused with it.

I understand your point of course. Instead, how about this idea.
Include subcategories under the observation type. For example detailed flora classifications instead of just one. i.e. tree, shrub, vine, cactus ect.
Even with the insect and animal sightings there should be subcategories that you could choose from when you do a search of an area. Mammal, invertebrate, reptile, avians and butterfly, arachnid, beetle… It would make life so much easier!

iNaturalist’s taxonomy model won’t support this, at least for plants in the way you suggest. It uses a Linnean approach of species classification.

There is no Linnean or taxonomic concept of ‘tree’. Trees belong to many different families. Some of your examples do exist, you can enter butterflies or beetles or mammalsetc as a choice to id or search for because these are discrete taxonomic concepts from the Linnean tree of life. Cactuswould be there as it is a discrete taxonomic family.

To create concepts like tree or vine however would require a complete redesign of how the site manages tazxonomy.


Jessalyn, for what it’s worth, we do have some higher-level categories you can use to filter searches, like amphibians, mammals, arachnids, etc., but they as Chris pointed out, they are tied to our taxonomy, and we have tried to choose “iconic taxa” for these categories that are mostly relevant around the world and that most people would understand. Plants are very challenging in this regard, and cactuses are kind of the exception that proves the rule as they are one the few taxonomic groupings that are easily iconified and probably universally recognized. Grasses are another, I guess, but most plant taxa are so morphologically diverse that it would be pretty meaningless for us to have a high-level category for something, like Euphorbiaceae.

For things like growth forms like trees and shrubs or other useful attributes that don’t map well onto taxonomic groupings, I don’t think we’d have to completely alter our taxonomy to support searches like that, but we would have to get that data from somewhere. We usually don’t like to get data from external sources (is the source accurate, is it current, how do we keep it current, what if we don’t like it, what if we only like some of it, etc.), so we would want to crowdsource the generation of that data through something like annotations, but then you get into some pretty muddy semantic waters, and we start having to mediate disputes over what is and isn’t a vine, and that sounds… wearisome.


In South Africa you need a permit from Nature Conservation. That applies to the regional spring wildflower shows too. Permits to protect endangered and rare plants, and to keep the harvest sustainable.