Query Regarding 'Feral' Plants?

Sorry I don’t know how else to ask this. Basically, England has a lot of parks and old estates and farms where plants were originally planted by humans but over time those plants have settled into their environment and now survive in spite of lack of direct, ongoing human care. I’m not referring to plants such as Crocuses which spread and grow new babies, but to very old bushes, trees, shrubs such as Buxus which was once a topiary but is now in the middle of a rough ‘woodland’ or a Redwood once planted as a field border or arbour which is now overgrown/not maintained specifically as a border. On the edge of this question sit ancient/old hedges which are still kept as hedges but are very old and potentially not the original species planted to begin with. There are also woodlands which were once used to coppice for industry but are now nature reserves/green spaces.

My question is - do any of these still count as cultivated? At which point do I draw the line? I did read the guidelines, I have watched others and what they do, and still not completely sure of what to do in some of these cases.

1 Like

Here on iNat, whether a plant is still being maintained by humans or not is not considered to be relevant. The only point to consider is whether the particular plant was originally planted by humans, no matter how long ago. If it was planted originally, then it is considered not wild, aka cultivated.

If the plant has spontaneously reproduced however, the next generation of plants are considered to be wild.


Yes, if an individual plant was planted by humans, it is cultivated, no matter how long ago the planting was.

There are many threads on the forum that might be useful. A sampling:
But there are others as well.


Thank you for the reply. Do you have any suggestions of a baseline to use? For instance, almost every old, large tree in suburbs around Southern England was planted by humans originally. We don’t have much of a way of being sure about which ones were/weren’t when it comes to native species such as English Oak unless they’re plated or known. Shall I just stick to marking obvious ones - i.e.; redwoods, brooms, etc? Foreign plants?

1 Like

Thanks a lot for the replies. I reckon we can call this answered now :)

Everything in rows and close to builduings is safely can be marked as cultivated.
There’re 20+ big topics on which plants are wild and not and how to distinguish them.


In many cases you are just going to have to give it your best guess.


It’s the case of the disappearing woodland. All the woodland animals are there and – poof! – all the trees around them vanish into casual grade.

To build on this discussion, should human-origin plants found in wild places be assumed to be cultivated without evidence to the contrary, or vice versa? I got into an argument with someone on one of my observations a few years back about this. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/12896435

The flower in question was found on a conservation land dike through a marsh, where the other plants were the usual disturbed area weeds and there was no evidence of any deliberate plantings apparent. Therefore, I left it as wild. However, someone came along, marked it as captive, and argued that because the species has been human-modified it should never be marked as wild. This seems like skewed logic to me?

1 Like

You’re correct, it should be wild.

1 Like

I’m not sure what the species being “human-modified” means in this context (domesticated?), but characteristics of species shouldn’t affect observations. For the purposes of iNat, wild/not wild is a property of an individual organism. Any species could have both wild/not wild individuals. As such, a line of reasoning dependent on the species wouldn’t matter. Now, of course, we might have more reason to suspect that some species are cultivated more than others, but that’s a different rationale.

1 Like

The specific wording of the argument was ‘this plant has gone through a lot of modifications in its history to have these double flowers, that is why i classified it as ‘cultivated’’. It would seem the user misunderstood the definition of ‘cultivated’ as it pertains to iNat


They did misunderstand and I fixed it for you and added annotations. Please necro this poor thread now :)