How to best contribute to identifications? Looking for advice

Lynn, please do not mention dandelions here. I’m begging. My head is already throbbing! This use to be such an easy species in our area, now it is an utter mess. How long before another species goes the way of the dandelion?


My mouth is shut (for once).


That isn’t even feasible anymore with so many genera being split. I’m having a really discouraging day seeing so many notifications essentially identical to this one.

It has gotten to the point that if you don’t know the species, you might as well not suggest anything at all.

Yeah, my identification workflow is: read all my notifications. If I see more than one or two disagreements, I don’t do IDs that day. Looks like today is no-go.


Thanks for the heads up. I was thinking of trying that with one of the many ERC seedlings that pop up in my yard. What about blueberry species? I have those coming up in my yard too.

Violets can be a nightmare especially the blue ones. Today I’ve been going through Subsection Stolonosae in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas which consists of 3 white-flowered water-loving species. V. primulifolia is easy to pick out. V. lanceolata vs V. vittata is harder. Also finding some white variant blue violets IDed at V. primulifolia. And some plants without flowers that aren’t violets at all.


The blueberries that I saw in your observations all looked like very good species. Flowering/fruiting bonsai are always very special so it’d be very much worth trying. I only have lowbush types in my yard which aren’t good for bonsai (unless as accents) because the shoots are short-lived. The lowbush don’t like their roots messed with so yours may not either. I’d be cautious and re-pot them like a conifer—not all at once. I’m not sure how well the branches will ramify but the blooms and fall foliage will make it worth it. They are sometimes used as hedges so it is completely possible they will ramify; I just don’t know how wild ones respond. Although I haven’t had any for several years (I once bought two on clearance that died when I was still new to bonsai) from what I remember, they act a bit like azaleas. Good luck!

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@bonesigh, how do you search for that? TY!

Just use the explore page and filter for your state, choose “needs id”.

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Click the grey species box to the right of the grey observations box that shows the number of observations. It automatically sorts the species icons by the number of entries.

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Right, but are we going to blame people for being people? (I know a few people who actually brag about never reading directions.) This is why I keep suggesting that we accept people at a probationary level and give them a lot of feedback on their first (few? many?) observations so they end up working their way through the tutorial info online (and being referred to the tutorials frequently).

This is based on my experience as a not-stupid person who did many stupid things on iNat because this is a huge complex website. It took me a while to even FIND the tutorials. And then they all looked like they were aimed at people with lots of pricey camera equipment who traveled around taking hundreds of pictures, while I am in my backyard taking pictures with my smart phone.

(And the AI certainly LOOKS like it is requesting that you pick one of it’s options, rather than simply offering some options that you are only supposed to choose if you already know what the subject of your observation is.)


I can put my state in the location spot and check the needs ID but I get a random assortment. How do you sort by species?

Wait, did bonesigh just answer that above?

Nope, I don’t get it.

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I’m assuming you live in Oregon, USA, given your observations, so here’s a URL that shows all the Needs ID observations in Oregon sorted by species:

Note that in the wide, dark gray bar across the page a little down from the top, the Species box is green, meaning it’s selected. Does that help?

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Thank you!

I just put my cursor in the species box and got a bunch of options. I chose Birds (Aves) and it worked. Let us know if you are missing a needed step so we can help.

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Thank you so much for this URL! I got as far as Explore, location Oregon, clicking on Species in the bar across the top, but couldn’t find any way to find the Needs ID ones.

That URL ([]) just shows Needs ID observations (no Research Grade or Casual). To get to the actual observations, see where it says (for example) 1,196 observations above the species name Yellowed-faced Bumble Bee? Click on that and it will bring you to all of the Needs ID observations in Oregon for that species. Does that help, I hope?

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Thanks so much for this information. When I previously used the link and clicked on the Yellow-faced Bumble Bee PICTURE it took me to lots of data about those bees. I just now used it and clicked on the number of observations and found the ones actually needing IDs. Really appreciate your help.

This does, however, support my previous arguments that, on this complex website, interactive tutorials (rather than the existing video tutorials) would be both helpful to beginners and reduce the teaching load on the experienced users.

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Note: The reason there are so many Yellow-faced Bumblebee observations in “needs ID” is that there’s a look-alike west of the Cascades, Bombus cali . . . something. We’re IDing those to “Pyrobombus” (a subgenus) unless the photos show the abdominal hairs.


So only observations that show the abdominal hairs can be definitively IDed as Yellow-faced Bumble bee?

Or, only observations that show the abdominal hairs when the observation is west of the Cascades, can be definitively IDed as Yellow-faced Bumble bee?

Apparently (I learn this by being correcting on iNaturalist) Yellow-faced Bumblebees west of the Cascades can only be ID’d to species if the abdominal hairs can be seen. All black on Yellow-faced, a yellow stripe on the look-alike. However, Yellow-faced is much more common. I find this frustrating.