Is it OK to mark an observation wild when the system marked it not wild?

On this topic, I just noticed that an observation of a bush I took in a park that I CV ID’d to genus (to be conservative) was flagged as ‘captive’ by the system, when there are at least a dozen RG species-level observations of the same genus in the same park, at least one of which is almost certainly the exact same bush. I’m confused why this happened, is the genus tagged as always captive but not the species? Of course I have no way of knowing for sure if that specific bush was planted, and the others are wild, but is it appropriate for me to just counter the system’s vote for ‘captive’?

If there’s an automatic vote from iNat (which the system does based on origin and what other observations for that taxon in the area are designated as) it’s fine to counter that if you have evidence to the contrary. Since you made the observation, you’re in the best position to vote against that (as opposed to other IDers who will only have the picture to go on). It would be pretty much impossible to know definitively that a given plant was wild or not (unless you planted it yourself or it was tagged or something!), so if it isn’t in a plant bed, is off a trail, etc. and you think it recruited naturally, I think it’s fair to vote against that flag.


The iNat automatic algorithm will flag things as captive if 80% or more of observations of that taxon in that county are captive. In my personal experience I find this system to work quite well; for me locally there’s only a few species of plant which are commonly both captive and wild, and only one observer who enjoys looking for gray areas. That being said, yes of course the algorithm is wrong sometimes, and absolutely you should counter-vote it if you think this is one of those times.

Just curious, when you say “park,” is this an urban park or a nature preserve?


So in that area broadly about 30% of observations of the species are tagged captive, and just about 50% are research grade. In that county specifically, 85% of that genus is tagged captive and about 84% of the species. Of course, its a self fulfilling prophecy because most (but not all?) of the observations since ca. 2019 have been auto-tagged by the system as captive. Before then, there were some obviously non-captive observations, like one of it aggressively colonizing an open field in 2018.

And the park is an incompletely capped construction debris landfill in an urban area with little obvious maintenance or cultivation, so some stuff has plausibly been planted there at some point but most of the plant life is invasive.


I concur with what the others have said here, yet would give it a thought before I’d decide it was ‘wild’.
Even in situations where there are many specimens of the same type, they could have all been planted. A good indicator of this being the case would be where all the plants are generally the same size, or fairly close. Or other obvious patterns of a ‘planting’ or ‘plantings’, as opposed to the plant escaping cultivation and ‘naturalizing’, where you should be able to find a great variety in the size and age, perhaps even the form.


I do wonder how the system handles that. Perhaps it shouldn’t be permitted to count its own votes.

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In general the automatic “non-wild” mark by the database is correct. Or rather, it’s employed for a reason. Occasionally you can find cases where something is demonstrated to be wild or naturalized, where the non-wild label is not ideal. But you should consider the circumstances carefully.


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