Mission: Impossible - Identify Plantae in Africa

I was scolded for @ mentioning one person too often today.
So have taken him off my list. Oops, so sorry.

But also encouraged to see how many previous identifiers are clearly following the ID progress, and responding (without being poked with a sharp stick)


Oof. I’m hoping when we poke too many folks during random mode, we’ll have a ready response link for our text expanders, of like “here’s what’s going on (project link), it’s just for this month, here (link) is how mute notifications for now”. (There should be a “notification management” section of the tips for id’ers , if there’s a consensus easiest way.)


One thing I try to remember - thanks to Tony R - no need to @ mention if someone is already on that obs (observer, identifier, commenter) or they get 2 notifications - and that is irritating.

Notification management tools from iNat would be much appreciated. Meanwhile I manually unfollow almost every obs I ID.


It’s so that people can’t say that conifers, ferns, or mosses are flowering.


I’m in, but can’t ID much the first week.

  1. We need all the IDs we can get for Africa. If you are a taxon specialist, your skills are more useful at Needs ID. Perhaps hunting for ‘yours’ by sorting thru the next broader taxon level?
    For example @arboretum_amy annotating ‘flowers’ (altho I ask her to help my commonorgarden).
    Mindless clicks - caterpillars among Lepidoptera as ‘larva’.
    Or retrieving beetle larvae from caterpillars.
    Whatever you enjoy among Unknown or Needs ID or Pre-Mavericks.

Start with a promising URL, tweak the filters to suit YOU, and build a slice you can complete. (I see @jasonhernandez74 has claimed his Araceae slice) Araceae Needs ID in Africa under 200

I hope to tempt people to claim their particular slice to housekeep in future. Once you clear the backlog, the daily trickle is small.

(7 was text expander)

My specialty is Middle European orchids and butterflies- I don’t think my knowledge will apply here :laughing:
But I’ll see where I can be of help sorting into broad plant categories.

1 Like

try looking through monocots for orchids, perhaps? there are about 6000 that aren’t better than Order… admittedly you’ll be looking at a lot of grass too.



Traditional project is now here: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/mission-impossible-identify-plantae-in-africa

Forthcoming journal posts from that will have “mission intel,” such as best links to use to id at different levels (with date-added limitation built in). Plus, training tips such as @dianastuder 's numbered items in this thread can be gathered into one. Plus, progress updates every n days.

What should n be to see if we are “moving the needle” on any plant groups over the course of the month?

I expect to crosspost links to any journal entries to this thread, so that participants can read those entries without joining the actual project. Do join the project if you want to add illustrative observations, or want to help directly as an admin re the journaling (PMing me through iNat may be best way to alert me to get admin status.)


Maybe a weekly update for stats?
You will, make a difference. In numbers. And in awareness.

Lateral thinking? Can you move butterflies to families? Oh that IS daunting 25K !
Orchids to finer than family? (links exclude South Africa)
You will help to move forward the ones I have put in Lepidoptera or Orchidaceae.


Once every 3-4 days would be cool, especially if its only going to be a month. Unless it is a lot of effort to compile the stats in which case once a week is plenty


Question: @dianastuder – I know you want plants in “Unknown” to be left in “Unknown” rather than ID’d as flowering plant, dicot, etc. However, I’m searching out plants ID’d to kingdom, phylum, or class. Should I leave the observation as Plants or Vascular Plants, wherever they are now, or identify them to dicot, monocot, etc.?

Now we have this shiny new project push the Unknowns to where you can.
I have URLs for those problem children - which I may come to regret ;~)
First prize is to get it to Family for taxon specialists. But if it has sat in Unknown for years, every step forward is good. Plus CV adds new species every month or so, and may be able to help us now where it couldn’t before.

Tony Rebelo has almost a quarter of a million obs, so go easy on triggering Notifications for him. (Again - it is unfortunate that iNat doesn’t give us any way to manage that burden - turning off agreements is not helpful - I want to know WHO agreed with me)

1 Like

So, give them any label lower than what they are now, unless the observation is by Tony Rebelo.



When I started this, I considered the most frustrating part to be the hundreds of woody plants with generic-looking, entire leaves. Now, I think the most frustrating parts are the well-photographed, distinctive plants that make me think, if I knew this plant, I’d know it. Sigh.


If it hasn’t got flowers. Or fruit. Or iconic interesting leaves.
I will move on to one which has a hope of an ID.

(Tony said when he comes back from a field trip - there will be a thousand notifications to work thru. I expect about a hundred a day for myself)

  1. It is okay to - Mark as Reviewed, Next. If you want to know what that is - please use follow (to reduce the notification burden on swamped taxon specialists once the discussion unfolds). You, will get a lot of notifications if you add a lot of IDs - Unfollow once you are no longer interested, but stick around - till you are sure your good intentioned ID is after all, not helpful.
    It is also okay to - mark as Not Wild, Next.

I want to release the logjam. To get that ID process moving (again).
Here I could only Orthoptera, it was already at Tribe, so I followed as it moved smartly along to ‘first living obs of an in press newly described species’. That is success!

(8 was IDs for Africa)

1 Like

Oh darn, if Tony’s on a field trip (yay more obs coming? ;) ), I may not get a response to the question I asked him yesterday, about whether he might want his obs just to be excluded for this challenge (and maybe successful trainees from this could look at his in a sequel).

In that case I have an idea for mission tiers. Thoughts?

  • Easy mode: “no Tony” mission urls- go ahead and spam coarse ids to move things forward, if that’s your comfort level [put &not_user_id=383144 into url]
  • Default mode: all obs including Tony’s in the mission urls, just use your own judgment when id’ing
  • Hardcore/Expert mode: 100% Tony in the mission urls, know what you’re doing here (but bonus- no kids’ bioblitz garden plants) [put &user_id=383144 into url]

Oh, also this tier where Tony’s Unknown obs would be pre-excluded from the Unknown chunk, since I imagine they won’t be relevant:

  • Garden mode: captives, whether already somewhere in Plantae, or still Unknown

(Stalkers R Us, he is IDing today)

My own gut feeling is to offer URLs for Rest of Africa (from bobmcd) where almost everyone welcomes an ID. Since he started me on that I remember only one Don’t!

A separate URL for South Africa - where the residue for Cape Peninsula 2 will be Difficult, Very. Western Cape - there’s a chunk which is on my Next list. For the other (Eastern) side of South Africa I focus on Pre-Mavericks because climate and vegetation are very different to my mediterranean fynbos (easier for Californians who know and grow it) and the semi-desert Karoo succulents.

PS it has taken all day - but I have cleared the Pre-Mavericks for South Africa. Trod on a few toes, but I’m done now!