Mission: Impossible - Identify Plantae in Africa

There are some where the observer is now duplicating for the plant, and some where the observer makes a comment as if it’s about the animal, but may have accidentally clicked plant. I use context if there is any, and then leave a comment with my id, “if you want the [other thing] instead, please reply and I’ll switch, thanks!”


I just noticed I’m now the world’s top identifier of Balanites aegyptiaca because I see Smilax spines in the desert? What is that? Now it’s an “accomplishment” and we’re only halfway through yet! Woohoo!

Do y’all feel like you have any weird accomplishments of your own so far?

Also, feel free to share your own tips about what might have become “low hanging fruit” for your id in some region. We need minimum 2 people at species to get 100% on the mission. ;)

Edit: Meanwhile here’s how Flora of Africa looks, at about halfway:


Also look at their other obs. What do they focus on?
All birds. Or bugs. Or plants.

If they have already added an ID - use that choice.
Unless bit of tree and focus on bird - bird seems a reasonable choice. IDing ‘bit of tree’ is … optimistic.


I enjoy that steady rise. About 100 new species. And also about 100 new identifiers.
Both good for future IDs.


Update from an Annotation side mission I’m doing- I’ve been ticking “no evidence of flowering” if it looks applicable to the photo. I know my interpretation may be incorrect at times- plus I have 0.1-2% typo rate (judging from lepidoptera).

If you catch an annotation error from me, please do @ me on the obs for a fix. (If someone just disagrees with “no evidence,” or other single marking, the otherwise-fine record can no longer be found using the annotation filters.) Thanks for “proofreading” help!


Update - fixed - https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/user-photo-profile-looks-odd-when-using-identification-tool/44265/3

Today’s fresh bug - photobombing ‘heads’

1 Like

Ive realised I have to be so careful with the fruiting annotation. If the fruit is ON the plant and attached then it is the plant that is fruiting. But if the fruit is detached and lying on the ground then I cant use the annotation fruiting. Also what if the fruit is dried up and dessicated on the plant and has been there for many months and hasnt detached, then I suppose the plant is no longer fruiting. @lotteryd how do you deal with this ? Perhaps there should be separate annotations. Fruit att attached to plant and fruit detached from plant. Mission Impossible has been a great exercise for me, personally. In the past I just added observations of plants and focused on IDs of insects. Now I realise there are many plants I can ID with a fair accuracy. Thans for this exercise. Im now a plant Ider because of Mission Impossible ! Thanks so much @dianastuder.


Given our limited choices - I do ID as fruit, whether it is on the plant, green or ripe or rotten, or fallen. Botanists want more options, but for ‘citizen scientists’ there is a limit to what we can sort out. I want to use that fruit annotation to sort out pictures of fruit


Welcome to one of the one hundred new plant identifiers in Africa !!


Partway through week 3 we have 2000 obs joining Flora of Africa and 700 at Species or lower leaving. Also notably the Phylum line on the second graph has gone slightly down for the first time since the start of the challenge! This is a good thing: more obs are being refined down from Phylum than new obs are being ID’ed at Phylum level :)

Let’s have a look at the numbers…

Number of observations in thousands for Africa excluding the Cape (counts including Cape in brackets).

Most recent counts shown as change relative to start of week 3
14-08-2023 17-08-2023
Not in Flora of Africa
  Plantae at Kingdom 11.4 (18.5) -0.7 (-0.9)
  Unknowns 6.3 (9.7) -0.6 (-1.1)
Flora of Africa
  Phylum to Class 44.8 (63.9) +0.1 (+0.5)
  Dicots 27.1 (37.3) +1.0 (+1.4)
  Subclass to Subtribe 52.0 (101.4) +0.5 (+0.5)
  Genus to Complex 131.3 (317.3) +0.2 (+0.4)
  Species and lower 177.9 (359.7) -0.3 (-0.7)
  Unknowns 3.6 (9.3) -0.1 (-0.2)
  Plantae 76.4 (183.4) +0.2 (+0.6)

Observations not in Flora of Africa. Black lines are including the Cape

Change in observations in Flora of Africa, relative to start of project.


I use “fruiting” for fruit on the ground as well as on the plant. It’s the best of the three options for this, though not perfect.

As to dead fruit from last year on the plant . . . I find that a problem. Sometimes I choose “fruiting” because the fruit is there. Sometimes I don’t. Not sure what I should do.


At this point I’m treating the phenology annotations as iNat identification aids. Like, if I see a plant’s fruit in the picture, I mark for fruit even if it it may be from a prior season. Same with spent flowers.

If it’s super important for someone to track in-season fruits only, the researcher can always download the observation dataset they’re interested in, delete iNat’s annotations column and then assign their own for their publications. So I’m not worried about “messing things up” this way.


Help, please!

I have set up some habitat/view observations to be taken out of the ID queue. My approach mirrors the one taken already by the observer.

If you would be so kind as to follow this link and click agree, another troche will be done. Thanks for considering the request.



1 Like

I do feel that whatever researchersdo about checking iNaturalist data, it’s essential to check the outliers, both geographic and temporal outliers.

1 Like

Looking for low-hanging fruit? The African “needs ID” observations of Argemone that are annotated as “flowering” are easy to take to RG. Argemone mexicana has yellow flowers; A. ochroleuca has pale yellow or white flowers. It seems to me that A. mexicana has wider leaves and leaf lobes, but there’s overlap in that trait.


Challenge accepted
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/177051813 - lotteryd

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/178963777 - mine

@koos_the_reader ?

1 Like

On it, thanks! I’ll mark mostly as Tracheophyta for now, with a note to observer in case they want a specific focus. Where a particular plant fills the frame, I’ll try something finer and add a note in case they wanted a general id.

…Done for that set! Since I have that copypasta set up, I’ll go help another person with similar data whom I’ve been noticing in the mix.

1 Like

I have hesitated to ID these past genus because there are 20+ species of Argemone. Are these the only two documented as introduced to Africa?


sedgesrock is a retired plant scientist and very active on iNat.
She would know.

1 Like

As far as I can tell, these are the only two. I base that on looking through RG observations on iNaturalist, GBIF records, and, to some extent, POWO. And my little Common Weeds of Malawi, found at a used book store. If there were more than these two, I think anomalies would show up. Well, one did. A plant with pure white flowers, maybe a mutant A. mexicana. But that’s all.

Of course I could be wrong. Frustrating working with a flora I don’t know (though I’m learning!). I wish it were easier for me to find checklists of African plants, even by country.


the data we are helping build this month may yet help the future author of such checklists and guides!