Flowering vs. Budding Annotations

Hi there inatforum community!

I’ve been meaning to post this question for a while, as I like to add annotations to observations. I have a feeling the answer may be complicated, but here goes…

What is the difference between a flower and a budding flower? When the sepals break, is it flowering?

Thanks in advance!

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I think it should be annotated as flower when you can see the parts hidden inside the bud. The pistil, stamens, and dorsal side of petals.


Just asking…. Don’t leaves bud out in spring? Is that a way the budding annotation works?

Budding annotation is for flower buds.

To original question, I think if it’s more than half-opened it’s ok to annotate it as flower, though usually plants have more than one flower, checking if there’re more opened or closed ones can make it easier for you to add both annotations.


Annotate as flower budding - to help us see what that plant looks like just before it actually flowers.

Thanks for the quick replies!

Unfortunately, I think this is indeed complicated.

@lappelbaum Perhaps it has something to do with sexual maturation, but that can happen without being able to be seen (e.g. Gentiana andrwesii). Perhaps even when visible, the pistils and stamen can be immature (just guessing here). What you’re saying makes sense, especially in a practical way (if someone is looking for a picture of something flowering, they want to see those parts).

Maybe because of morphological variety, nailing down a precise definition of when a flower bud transforms into a flower is too difficult. In that case, maybe inat should set up their own guidelines for these annotations, or if there is a grey area, have an annotation for that.

I was thinking that a flower was when the sepals broke, but that seems too simplistic now (just looked it up: a plant without sepals would be an imperfect flower e.g. Calla Lily). It seems like there is a grey area here, and perhaps that could be a growing problem as observations accrue and people with different ideas of what separates these two annotations add annotations. Maybe I’m thinking about it too much! :)

There are leaf, flower and fruit phenophases. Each of these can be further subdivided depending on information desired.
For instance Leaf can be divided into: Initial shoot or leaf growth, Breaking leaf buds, Young leaves, Leaves, Increasing leaf size, Colored leaves, Falling leaves. Sometimes the % is also estimated.
Currently iNaturalist only records 3 flowering phenophases. When flowers “open” it is in the “flowering phase”. If there are buds and open flowers, you can mark both.
for more information see: https://www.usanpn.org/files/shared/files/Plant%20and%20Animal%20Phenophase%20Definition%20Supplement.pdf


Wow. What an awesome resource! Not too heavy either. The NPN website looks like a great resource as well.

It seems like “open flower” would be the same as flowering for the sense of annotations here on inat, which would mean visible reproductive structures. Thanks so much!

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