Identifiers - what do you ID, and how can observers make it easier to do so?

As a general rule for plants I would suggest users to:

  1. photograph as many part of a plant as possible including the habit even though this may seem time-consuming. Do not focus only on flowers!
  2. Collect samples if a plant seems not so rare. A sample allows you to observe a character that could have been missed during an excursion.
  3. Find manuals and papers that provide taxonomic keys. Learning how to use a key is foundamental.
  4. Join excursions with more skilled botanists. There are many botanists that are looking forward to share what they know.

Critical taxa may require a peculiar approach (e.g Rosa and Orobancheae):


That is very general. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Sorry but the message has been posted by itself (!?!) and you are very quick!


Well first its not my observation, co i cant put it on another website. And second i already made a ID … am just searching for an iNater willing to confirm, which seems in many cases much more difficult, than to make the ID in the first place.

I have some field time but rarely have much in the way of photo processing time later, so I always use the app too. Either way is fine. One photo is often sufficient, it depends on what you are observing.

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I did not mean photo processing… my problem with my mobile is that is difficult when you chase a moving object to check the focus. To fix the issue, as I mentioned, i lock magnifiation and zoom, set expo to spot auto and take a lot of pics. When I got time later (any time later, the pics are there in the storage) I just open the iNat app and load the ones which are good in bulk.
Today I discovered (yeah, proably I’m not that smart) that if I keep pressed the shoot button on the screen it goes on and can take kind of 8-10 pics a second. That made me really happy.

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5 posts were merged into an existing topic: Macro Lenses for Smartphone Cameras

I ID a lot of true frogs (Ranidae). The presence or absence of dorsolateral folds and the markings on the legs are the most important features. Webbing on the hind toes and facial markings can also be useful.


At least for plant identification, I encourage observers to learn jargon like this: If people learn to read keys or consult local knowledge-bases, then the identifying process is more dependable. CalPhotos can be a good resource too. In my opinion, referencing keys is the single best thing observers of plants can do. I would like it if observers made a note if a leaf feels sticky or if petals are hairy.

Information on plants found in Southern California:

Good keys include:

  • Jepson eFlora taxon pages
  • Flora of North America
  • Cal-IPC guides —> especially for Genista monosperma (the note on the villous banner contradicts Jepson taxon page for G. monosperma, but the banner is hairy in photos by California Academy of Sciences and Jason Giessow)
  • UC ANR resources

Plants that I think are not usually accurately identified (usually to the subspecies or variety level) or cannot be identified at the moment are: Eriodictyon crassifolium, Corethrogyne filaginifolia vars., Frangula, Deinandra fasciculata (there are hybrids with Centromadia or other Deinandra spp.), Rhamnus, Washingtonia robusta (can be Washingtonia x filibusta), naturalized brooms and Cytisus scoparius (USDA accepts subspecies of C. scoparius, but not Jepson eFlora), Genista Peritoma arborea (I do not see many identifications of Peritoma arborea var. globosa on iNat that are independent of my identfications), Raphanus, Mesembryanthemum (M. crystallinum was frequently misidentfied around Palo Alto and Fremont), Cakile (it feels like over 95% of observations of Cakile edentula are actually Cakile maritima), Bebbia juncea (no taxon page exists for Bebbia juncea in Jepson eFlora, there is only Bebbia juncea var. aspera), Ceanothus megacarpus, Ceanothus crassifolius var. crassifolius, Acmispon glaber, Eriophyllum confertiflorum, Baccharis pilularis (the more widespread plant is Baccharis pilularis subsp. consanguinea), Adenostoma fasciculatum (varieties exist), Isocoma menziesii var. menziesii, Isocoma menziesii var. vernonioides, Emmenanthe penduliflora var. penduliflora, Nemophila menziesii (the varieties are ok to identify), Encelia farinosa (the varieties are okay to add), Baccharis salicina (what distinguishes this from B. pilularis), Baccharis salicifolia (should maybe be Baccharis salicifolia spp. salicifolia), Baccharis glutinosa, Symphoricarpos albus (should be Symphoricarpos albus var. laevigatus). Also important are the revisions in Revision 7 of Jepson eFlora:

See the unabridged notes: