Flagging hostas and other ubiquitous cultivated plants (in North America)

Hostas are familiar to all of us, ubiquitous in almost every garden in Canada and the US. A quick search on the Explore page reveals 1,500 observations of hostas at ‘Needs ID’ or ‘Research Grade’ in North America. I suspect almost all of these are cultivated plants. I propose that we tackle the task of flagging as many of these as “captive/cultivated” as possible.

While we’re at it, can you think of any other commonly cultivated plants that with a large number of un-flagged observations? Feel free to post them here. Other examples that come to mind are Juniperus horizontalis, Forsythia spp., Cercis canadensis, etc.

P.S. there are rare naturalized populations of hostas in North America. Here’s a great example of a presumably naturalized population: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/41009023

P.P.S. this topic is North America-centric, as this is where I live and the region I’m familiar with. I believe most hosta observations worldwide are probably cultivated.

The eternal question (sorry), and what slows me down in marking others’ observations … where is the dividing line between cultivated and naturalized? I know it’s a continuum, not a line, but any guidance on making that judgment when flagging others’ observations?

It’s easy when the photo shows a backdrop of weed-free mulch around a peony. Hostas are long-lived plants that don’t usually self-seed in the garden (in my experience,) so they are fairly easy. Ditto forsythia and lilac.

OTOH, Fritillaria meleagris: if they have self-seeded out of the garden into the adjacent lawn, are they naturalized? How about if they have self-seeded into the opposite side of the lawn?

Or do we want to just sidestep this rabbit-hole?? If you want to remove this post (or want me to remove it), feel free.

1 Like

I’m chugging through Asian Bleeding-Heart, and using a standard paragraph:
I have marked this observation as cultivated because these plants are almost always intentionally planted as opposed to naturalized, and this particular plant appears to be in a garden setting. Let me know if you think this is not the case.


Geraniums are a totally mess in North America (wild, naturalized and cultivated species mixed) There are many cultivated species that are not marked as cultivated, most of them are even misidentified. For example many cultivated Geraniums are labeled as Geranium pratense, Geranium syvaticum (from Europe), Geranium geranium potentillaefolium and Geranium seemannii (from Mexico, Central America). Recently, I’ve fixed the mexican species, there are no cultivars and they should not be found north of Mexico. However, I have problems with the European species as there are many cultivars and I’m not that skilled in Id-ing cultivated Geraniums.

1 Like

Don’t Hostas reproduce from rhizomes? From my interpretation of wild/cultivated(on iNat), if it is reproducing on it’s own it is now wild. The example observation you give, would be my assumption that probably someone tossed out some rhizomes and there they are growing, so did they have human intervention getting there? If they appeared via seed, I would assume it would be a new culitvar. Hence since, you’ll never know - you are guessing.

This is a common conundrum for me as I have a lot of plants that reproduce from rhizomes, tubers, stolons etc. BTW, no Hostas do not grow in Southern Florida.

1 Like

It’s not very common, but I do occasionally see hostas naturalize in my area (southeastern Pennsylvania).

1 Like