How to Label Sex of Monoecious or Hermaphroditic Plant?

I have been trying to add annotations to my observations, but I have run into an issue with the “sex” annotation for plants - while fairly straightforward with dioecious plants, what am I supposed to do when a plant is monoecious or hermaphroditic? The only options seem to be “Male,” “Female,” and “Cannot be determined,” but many plant species have both male and female flowers or flowers with both male and female reproductive parts which can readily be identified. Should I mark them as “Cannot be determined” or just leave them blank, or something else?

You can’t presently label those with annotations, so probably leave it blank. See previous discussions:
(the second one is very long - search for “bisexual” or “hermaphrodite” to find those discussions).
There is, however, an observation field named “PlantSex” that allows female, male, or monoecious as values. If you are doing a special study, you could add that field to any observations you are looking at.


Those categories really fit plants only if they’re dioecious, so just skip it. Don’t mark a sex for most plants.


I agree with the “just don’t mark it” advice. If it makes you feel any better, I think that annotation field is mostly an iNaturalist thing that probably came from people used to working with animals. In the thousands of herbarium specimens I’ve worked with, I can’t remember any where sex was noted. I’m sure it is useful for those few plant groups with dioecious species, but mostly botanists just want to know if there are fruit or flowers.


There’s no reason to mark sex for a species that only has one sex: monoecious/hermaphrodite.

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I’m glad to hear this, I had been concerned that since the field was there it needed to be filled for data to be complete. Thanks!

What would make even more sense: that annotation field to appear only if the current ID is of a dioecious species. You know, the way the stages of metamorphosis appear only if the ID is at least Pterygota, not just Insects.


No, it doesn’t appear only if the current ID is of a dioecious species, but it appears for all flowering plants, including monoecious and hermaphroditic plants.

Which is why Jason says - it should, only appear, for the taxa where it does apply.

It should, but it doesn’t…

It would seem to make sense, but some plant species can be either male or female or monoecious. Some can have unisexual or have perfect flowers. They’re not easy to categories.

Plus, there are millions of plant species and sorting them all into dioecious vs. others would take a lot of time and digging into plant descriptions. Time that can’t be spent identifying the millions of unidentified observations. The easier thing is to make the male/female category available for all species and have people not use those categories when they don’t apply. Which leads us to this discussion, of course. . . .

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