Most Common R.G. Plant (and Fish, haha!) Observations (Maps). Update 6/20 - oaks, orchids, fish, England, Asia now in comments!

I wonder if that myth arose because of the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve State Natural Reserve?

Everything is protected, from the tiniest wildflower to the rocks on the trail. Damaging or collecting anything from the park is prohibited. Poppies wilt immediately after being picked, and they hold the seeds that we need for the next year’s wildflowers.


Interestingly, there’s a similar myth that persists related to Wisconsin’s state wildflower, the Large White Trillium.

I was trying to move baldcypress up to 1st for Louisiana. It’s the state tree. The state flower (southern magnolia) is lagging much further behind. The state wildflower is Louisiana iris which apparently does not refer to a specific species but any of the species and hybrids in Iris ser. Hexagonae.

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i was thinking phragmites would be the top for NY. not just because i upload it to no end, but because id argue its probably literally the most abundant plant in most of the state. i can’t really speak for NYC, which gets a lot of observations of course, but from western new york to albany / adirondacks / vermont, massachusetts, connecticut borders, id really bet the most abundant plant is invasive phragmites. it’s certainly in NYC too, but i don’t visit that much. however, its so abundant in the rest of the state i think people are plant-blind to it and dont observe it that much. im an exception to that obviously but i still thought since it feels like an accurate representation of the state (unfortunately) that it would be the top one. it’s a close second, but white snakeroot still really shocks me.

Plant-blindness with observations is something I find fascinating - I think it’s very much a thing. It’s also interesting (and somewhat separate) that as much as I like to observe new species - which I certainly do - I still sometimes find I need to push myself to observe something other than the same stuff I always observe. I think we probably see all those general tendencies reflected in some of the most-commonly-observed data.


I was curious how this would vary in a smaller area - after all, the US has everything from tundra to desert - so did England and the ceremonial counties, #1 plant for Research Grade observations (sorry Wales and Scotland, but there’s no sort of subdivision I could find that was on both iNat search and a map-maker!):

As a table
Column 1 Column 2
Merseyside Common Nettle
North Yorkshire Common Spotted Orchid
Dorset Creeping Thistle
West Midlands Common Daisy
Cumbria Foxglove
Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire, Tyne and Wear Garlic Mustard
Durham, West Sussex, Worcestershire Greater Stitchwort
Berkshire, Greater London, Suffolk, Surrey Green Alkanet
Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire Ground-ivy
Bristol, Greater Manchester, Hampshire Herb-Robert
West Yorkshire Himalayan Balsam
East Sussex, Herefordshire, Kent, Lancashire, South Yorkshire Lesser Celandine
City of London Maidenhair Spleenwort
Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire Pyramidal Orchid
Cheshire, Cornwall, Derbyshire, Devon, East Riding of Yorkshire, Isle of Wight, Leicestershire, Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire Red Campion
Norfolk Red Deadnettle
Somerset Rhododendron
Cambridgeshire, Essex, Rutland White Deadnettle

Some counties don’t have natives as their #1 - Somerset (Rhododendron, although 801/881 of the observations are from 2 people) and West Yorkshire (Himalayan balsam) - both have highly invasive species as their most observed species. The ones with Green Alkanet have a neophyte, and the deadnettle havers archaeophytes. City of London (about 2 square miles of central London) - has the only non-flowering plant, maidenhair spleenwort, a fern that loves walls - no shortage of them there.

The other interesting thing is this still shows regional variation! That is where Pyramidal Orchid does best, on the chalk soils in those counties (set the map view to Tetrad frequency on the BSBI Atlas and you can see the exact same pattern). You also get very common species that hardly register in this measure - Common Daisy and Common Nettle (6th, 7th England-wide) appear just once, whilst Yarrow and Cow Parsley (8th, 9th England-wide) don’t at all.


That’s another cool map! What gets left out is fascinating, too, isn’t it? For the United States, notable absences are Eastern Poison Ivy & Common Yarrow (#2 & #3 nationwide). And American Pokeweed (#1) is only top observation in Delaware. Last night I posted the bird map for the United States - also an interesting map, although with far less variety than these plant maps.

Arizona and California match their state plants/flowers! (I’m surprised Texas did not with bluebonnets!)


Well most states have a state tree and a state flower, many also have a state wildflower, so there’s three chances for the species to be a state something.

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And yet most of these lazy species don’t even try! American Pokeweed, for example, should really hire a lobbyist.


Yep, Bidens alba is super common here. Common sight on suburban lawns.

NM has blue grama (state grass), yucca (state flower), piñon (state tree), and Chile pepper (state “vegetable”).


Bloodroot for Minnesota is really interesting, but it does make a certain amount of sense with reflection. It’s range covers a decent portion of the state, and it’s a really cool plant that is one of the earlier spring ones, so anyone who want’s to start observing blooms after a long winter will probably make an observation.

Most importantly though, it’s easy to identify! There are no sanguinarias that have reached genus level and are waiting to get to research grade in Minnesota. (For complete transparency, I just checked to confirm my hunch, and there were two- but I added my own IDs and now it’s zero.)


I’m new to the forum but wanted to note something about Nevada since I’ve explored that state a good amount.

It’s interesting that creosote is the most common research-grade observation there, since it’s only found in the bottom corner of the state occupied by the lower elevation mojave desert (and probably some in the transition area between the mojave and the higher up great basin, the latter which makes up most of the state). I’m certain there are many times more sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) in that state since that is a dominant species in most of the land area. But creosote is surely just overrepresented because most people in Nevada live in the Las Vegas area. Some in the Reno-Carson area too, but most of the state where sagebrush dominates is extremely sparsely populated.

It would be interesting to see these at the county level to account for some of the regional population variation, but then you run into issues of smaller sample size and increased influence of random variables and single individuals.

Edit- clarity


There’s a user from Arizona who’s tried to document as many saguaro and creosote as possible, and he’s by for the biggest contributor to Nevada’s creosote observations. If you remove his observations, Yucca brevifolia is the most observed plant species in Nevada.


I haven’t dug super-deep, but I’m certain these sort of maps are masking a lot of more granular regional variations in documented observations. Yesterday, for example, I looked at research-grade bird observations in California counties, and there were 28 different top species across the 58 counties!

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Here’s one for oaks in the US

Here’s all the grey ones:
CA: Q. agrifolia
ID: Q. robur
OK: Q. marilandica
TX: Q. fusiformis
MO: Q. imbricaria
DC: Q. phellos
HI: A singular feral Q. suber
AK: None


I decided to do this for Canada! Not a lot of overlap, which makes sense; even within a shared latitudinal range, there are a lot of different biomes that dominate at different longitudes.

The grey ones are:

NT: Entireleaf Mountain-Avens
BC: Western Sword Fern
AB: Prairie Pasqueflower
SK: Western Snowberry
MB: Manitoba Maple
ON: Common Milkweed
QC: Red Trilium
NS: Eastern White Pine


Neat. How did you query for this? Is there a SQL interface somewhere or what?

I think you may be right that there is more California buckwheat than California poppies. These are observations made by the public at large though, and poppies are eye-catching, so perhaps more likely to get photographed. Just a theory, which doesn’t’ look like it would hold true for what I see for some of the other states. Yet I, too, am surprised to see California poppies here. I do a lot of IDing, and I definitely see more California buckwheat.