Is a wild collected plant with a known origin, cultivated in a Botanical Garden, only hobby quality or of scientific interest?

I see. So if I want to iNat them I should do it before transplanting, and iNat will just miss out on flowering pics, etc., unless I photograph other “wild” individuals. Unless, of course, I upload as cultivated (which I would have to develop a new habit of doing).

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You can still put pictures of cultivated/transplanted plants on iNaturalist. As you suggest, they can be useful for tracking flowering times. In fact, they may be more useful, since you’re likely to take pictures in your garden every year.

Don’t be put off by the ‘casual’ label. It shouldn’t suggest the observations are not serious or valuable.

I think this issue is so contentious because people think only observations with the ‘research grade’ label are important, but that’s really not true. It has a very particular meaning: these records are considered accurately identified, and can be used for mapping the natural distribution of wild plants. But of course observations that don’t fit that definition are still useful and important in other ways!


Yes, I realize the records are still valuable, but I’m probably going to be less likely to post them, simply because I don’t make a habit of posting cultivated plants. I do realize this situation is a little different, since the plants are just barely cultivated. :grinning:

Even for your own records, posting first leaf, first flower, and other phenology is worthwhile

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I don’t believe that the casual records are considered as valuable as wild records. If they valued them, they would consider them as “needs ID” and they would have implemented an equivalent of Research Grade community taxon for them. They also would have made it just as easy to query for them in the identification experience as it is for wild organisms. As it is, you would need to select “Casual/Captive” and then also probably select “Has photographs” because once you choose Casual, you also pick up a lot of observations that are not actionable because there’s no photo, or perhaps other data quality problems. And setting this just once won’t do either, you would need to set those things every time you sit down to an identification session, unless you do something even more esoteric like saving bookmarks for your queries (clearly a workaround - bending over backwards essentially). So all of this reveals the ugly truth, “Casual” is considered by iNat managers as a pejorative - not worthy of interest and attention, allowed grudgingly but not given attention or investment of time and resources.


I don’t think it’s fair to say that casual records are not valued or are viewed pejoratively by staff. While some have expressed their own opinions about what types of observations they personally prefer to focus their own ID’ing efforts on, I’ve never read anything from staff that would imply that these are frowned upon or discouraged.

The very fact that the casual status exists shows that they’re valued. If they weren’t valued at all, they’d simply encourage you to delete them or not upload them at all.

And staff have explored ways to not send non-wild observations to the “doesn’t need ID” pile. See: (note this has not been marked as declined, and staff have linked to it in other threads)


As someone with experience in project management, I can tell you that something not having been implemented yet is not an indication of low value. Sometimes other things are just more valuable or much easier to implement.


But it would be an easy fix to change the displayed word
from clearly judgmental Casual
to neutral NOT Wild - which is our response to iNat’s query - is it Wild?

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Sure, I would agree that the label ‘Casual’ has a certain connotation to it that doesn’t quite sit right, and that, on the surface, changing the ‘Casual’ label from ‘Casual’ to something like ‘Not Wild’ does seem super easy.

But keep in mind that there are other factors driving things to the Casual status, such as missing or inaccurate time or location data, missing photos or sounds (a valid use case for folks wanting to record an observation of something of which they weren’t able to capture photographic or audio evidence), and more. Many of these scenarios are not accurately communicated with the words “Not Wild”, and so you arguably would just be trading one problem for others and not really end up with a net gain. Also there are languages besides English to think about.

So a good solution would require not just changing existing labels, but also changing the decision tree that the system uses to decide what label something gets, and even potentially implementing additional well-thought-out labels. In other words, it would require mucking around with some of the deep-down guts of the platform – something I can understand the staff contemplating very cautiously.

Remember too that “iNaturalist”, the system, is actually a collection of separate applications and codebases. You’ve got the website, the API, an Android app, an iOS app, and Seek – to name only some of the 41 distinct repositories iNat has on GitHub. It’s possible changes would be required in multiple codebases, which increases the complexity further.

There’s also the cross-platform mobile app the team is diligently working on to replace the existing Android and iOS apps. And the team, as far as I’m aware, isn’t necessarily a huge team. It may that they simply are prioritizing getting that new mobile app out the door before revamping the core experience across platforms.

I think I’m kind of straying from the intent of the thread at this point, but I’ve seen several other threads where people have said “Oh, I didn’t realize that iNat hates cultivated plants and that I shouldn’t upload them” and I wanted to add my two cents in the hopes that someone wouldn’t read through this thread and leave with the same impression. I also sensed some frustration in Gordon’s wording that I figured I might (or might not) be able to add some helpful thoughts on.

Splitting Casual into Not Wild on the one hand.
And on the other hand, what is data deficient (lacks date or location etc)
Is an existing issue - separate to the wild or cultivated question of this thread.


My Ids this week went down a rabbit hole. I went to frequent responses and from there specifically to ones missing data:

on a few users I went to their observation lists to see if it was a fluke or if they had additional observations missing data, but I had to remember to throw &verifiable=false&captive=false into the URL (no filters defaults to “any”, and the filters in the GUI are affirmitave, so hacking the URL is the only way to exclude). If verifiable were separate from captive, people could probably use the GUI filters and/or have to do less URL hacking.

IDing can already be a bit of a slog sometimes; making it easier is another aspect of the casual conversation that I think doesn’t get as much attention (in addition to the other aspects).


Yeah, that’s why I barged into this thread the other day about the Homo sapiens in Captives. Who wants to see all those mugs in their flowers when id’ing?

If we really want to recruit more identifiers to the extent that people write papers about it, then the identification areas that have the “low hanging fruit” for new identifiers should be both easy to access and then welcoming once they get there.

We should not have to make a bunch of url hacking (eg, hi, here’s how to filter out this chunk of broken obs or this particular person’s or) a significant part of a new identifier’s learning curve at the site.


Onboarding should include
… thanks. Lot of obs
… Now. Please. Start IDing here - with the simplest tasks first.
Someone has to ID, and someone is you.

But, you know, ever so politely!!


Absolutely! I kind of hit my limit of copy/pasting the frequent response text into one user’s 200+ non-verifiable observations yesterday and ended up sending the modified URL to them in a DM.

From the DM conversation that followed, I learned that despite the age of their account and volume of observations, they are not very familiar with iNat as a platform (like many, they seemed to view it as an identification AI), so they were not familiar with the filters in either URL or GUI.

But how iNat is presented/ advertised and “training” new users is a whole separate conversation. :smiley:



thank you for your discussion even if it then drifted a bit into the basics ;-).

My question was already answered days ago. Now I know how it goes on for me.
For myself, the iNat definition of “cultivated” and “wild” has never been a real problem. In this respect, I am also often quite “strict” by my identifications for other observers. However, a further category such as “status questionable” would not be bad.


Thanks, regnierda, for your detailed response. I’m also in the software world, and I understand that every choice and decision along the way is influenced by many factors, practical and otherwise. Decisions made early in the project reflect the intentions and plans of the original owners and designers, and as a project, site, or app evolves, and develops a following, the priorities and intentions of the users might be different and wider than the original design concepts, leading to situations where decisions made early on are deeply baked into the system and difficult to change, despite the intentions of the current owners and designers.

However, I also know from experience that it’s sometimes necessary to complain more stridently about problems in order to get any traction on them, so I think we should not hold back from giving critical feedback, even if we would all prefer that everyone be warm and friendly all the time. Sometimes nothing gets done unless people get upset and vocal about it, especially when it’s hard to make a change.

I don’t have any insight into the current design intentions of the owners. Is it a goal to improve the experience of observing and identifying captive/cultivated organisms? Or is that still a non-goal. I’d be interested to know if this concern is being heard and if there is s stalemate due to lack of consensus about “what the site is for”.

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I am concerned that we are debating how many angels can dance on a pin here and it may be counterproductive for what I thought were the objectives of the website: to encourage more people to notice and appreciate what’s all around us, naturally. It’s been years since I’ve lived in a city, but I always gravitated to the parks where some of the trees were planted (generational, as defining wild as someone suggested as defining out first generations of a planted species, would require more than a human lifetime to notice). And I’m happy to see the rewilding efforts in many metropolitan areas. is an enticing way to get children and young people and those who have lived in habitats of cement, cured wood, plastic and asphalt out to appreciate nature. Would their posts not get a response because their observations were “cultivated”? And does a person who has little exposure to nature know when the observation is part of a rewilding project? Perhaps you may want to debate whether, based on the GPS location, the posting is in a metropolitan area or not. Curators and those confirming observational ID’s might wish to give special priority to postings from these area. To find a wild violet, native, too, in Central Park should be worth community jubilation! Worldwide jubilation, if it’s in the midst of a concrete jungle.

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I can say that sometimes I am lax about marking things as cultivated for this reason – with a few exceptions. There are certain cultivated plants that seemingly everyone feels obligated to observe, such as Bougainvillea, Euphorbia milii, and Codiaeum variegatum. With those, I’m ruthless because I’m sick and tired of constantly seeing them.

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I tend to mark as cultivated when I am notified of the second ID. Then it has had a fair chance. But if blindingly obvious it is commonorgarden - then I push it to Casual with my (first) ID.

My own obs are always marked commonorgarden up front for identifiers.